Local News

Walkers hope to raise awareness, reports of child abuse

Posted April 5

— Under sunny skies in Raleigh Saturday, participants in the annual Child Abuse Prevention walk heard some gloomy statistics.

There are more than 128,000 reports of child abuse and neglect in North Carolina each year. In Wake County, there were more than 8,000 cases of child abuse in 2013. Across the state in 2013, eight children died of abuse or neglect.

April is Child Abuse Prevention Month, with events scheduled throughout to raise awareness of the issue.

It is one all too familiar to Yolanda Manson. She participated in the Pullen Park walk wearing a shirt with a photo of her niece, JaDajia Wright.

JaDajia was just 15 months old when her father, Jonathan Perry, shook her so hard that he killed her. He was convicted in 2012 and is serving a life sentence.

"She was a joy," Manson said. "She was lovable. She was just a high-spirited little girl."

Perry denied killing JaDajia. He told a hospital chaplain that he gave her a bottle and walked away, only to find her unresponsive when he returned. But her autopsy showed JaDajia had significant brain swelling, along with hemorrhaging in her brain, eyes and chest. She also had bruises on her face, legs and lower lip.

"At first I was in shock, and then the anger sets in, and then you go to devastated," Manson said.

 That emotional burden rang out as WRAL's Leyla Santiago, the walk's master of ceremonies, read the names and ages of each North Carolina child killed over the past year at the hands of a care taker.

A balloon was released as each name was read.

The goal is to prevent another child from dying and another family from walking in her shoes, Manson said. 

"We can get the word out as far as how do you report if you suspect that a child is being abused or neglected, what do you do," she said.

Anyone who suspects the mistreatment of child is encouraged to call the county Child Protective Services office.

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