UTAH ATTORNEY GENERAL’S OFFICE, CHILDREN’S JUSTICE CENTERS LAUNCH NEW SHINE CHILD ABUSE SUPPORT INITIATIVE
SHINE Campaign Lead By Survivors Rabbi Avremi Zippel, Former Senator Aaron Osmond and Musician Deondra Brown
SALT LAKE CITY — The Utah Attorney General’s Office and Children’s Justice Center Program (CJC) have launched a public awareness campaign dedicated to changing the conversation around child abuse and empowering survivors.
Listen to the press conference below:
Utah is the first state to roll out a SHINE campaign of this size with a digital marketing presence and an original PSA. Utah Attorney General Sean D. Reyes was joined by Utah natives and SHINE ambassadors Rabbi Avremi Zippel (Chabad Lubavitch of Utah), Aaron Osmond (former state senator) and Deondra Brown (pianist of The 5 Browns). Additionally, billboards have been placed throughout the state promoting SHINE and the important work of local CJCs.
The National Children’s Alliance, national membership organization for CJCs, created SHINE as an initiative to end the stigma associated with child abuse and encourage community members to support survivors.
Zippel said that being a survivor of childhood sexual abuse is a lonely and isolating experience. “The SHINE Campaign provides survivors of child abuse with reminders that are so necessary — that they are in no way alone and can and will go on to lead the fullest and most meaningful lives imaginable. We are fortunate to have organizations like Utah’s CJCs that are a pillar of support to young people in our community. I am proud to be part of this endeavor to stand with, inspire, and support fellow survivors.”
The campaign’s ambassadors acknowledge that each survivor’s path is different and equally valid. For some, their healing is private and personal. For others, action is a powerful tool.
Osmond said as a legislator, he felt compelled to strengthen state laws to protect the rights of victims. “As a victim of abuse, I also realized my own story needed to be told in that public setting to help remove the stigma of talking about abuse. It was hard to open up about such a personal impact. But in sharing my story, I have helped to engage my legislative colleagues, neighbors, and friends in discussing the problem and creating awareness in how we can all prevent child abuse”.
During the current pandemic, Attorney General Reyes stated that Utah’s child abuse reports have dropped by about 40%, but not because child abuse has declined. Stay-at-home restrictions have made it difficult for the most common mandatory reporters — teachers, coaches and other trusted adults — to observe concerning behaviors, or for children to safely disclose to them. As statewide restrictions inch closer to a new norm, professionals who work with child abuse victims hope children will begin to feel comfortable enough to disclose. But public awareness is also an important factor moving forward.
The SHINE campaign celebrates the resiliency of survivors and the critical role of CJCs in helping children find hope, support and healing. Every year Utah’s 25 CJCs handle more than 7,200 cases, providing advocacy, medical and mental health services, and other support to children throughout the justice process.
Brown is optimistic about the road ahead for this next generation of children. “If I had known as a child that CJCs were out there, I would have come forward much sooner and disclosed about the abuse I experienced. I was afraid I wouldn’t be believed and would be all alone. But the tides are shifting. People are discussing this topic and the message of SHINE is an opportunity to take that a step further — to celebrate the strength and determination of survivors and challenge us all to stand by them. If children who are experiencing abuse now see there are others out there who understand and will believe them, they will feel more empowered to come forward.”