April is National Child Abuse Prevention Month and brings to light the fact that many do not realize the peril our children can experience and have to deal with right here in Northwest Florida. There are approximately 1,100 cases of child sexual and physical abuse reported annually in Okaloosa and Walton Counties, an average of three a day. Despite those big numbers, nearly two-thirds of child victims’ needs go unmet due to lack of reporting to authorities.
Enter the Emerald Coast Children’s Advocacy Center (ECCAC). They provide services for young child abuse victims and their families in a child-friendly environment. All support services and personnel are under one roof.
There are two centers—in Niceville in Okaloosa County, and the Pierce Family Children’s Advocacy Center in DeFuniak Springs in Walton County. Neither location provides housing for children. It is estimated that for every child ECCAC helps, there are two children who are not helped.
Their heartbreaking stories include a six-year-old sexually abused by a grandfather, a 12-year-old with severe burns that were getting no attention, and a young child that witnessed a parent being brutally murdered.
These are but a few of the many children in the local community that have been helped by the ECCAC. ECCAC not only brings all organizations together so the judicial and healing process can be easier for the children who are victims of abandonment, abuse or neglect, it also provides mental health therapy for the children involved as well as their families.
In ECCAC’s 17-year history, approximately 11,000 children have received more than 43,000 services at no cost, including mental health therapy, crisis intervention, referrals to other community providers, interviews and medicals. They raise 60 percent of their annual budget for the two centers through special events, donations and community-sponsored fundraisers. The remaining money is generated through grant requests and government funding.
Another major undertaking in ECCAC’s child abuse prevention effort is the new Child Safety Matters program, made possible by a grant from Impact 100. This is a statewide initiative in elementary and middle schools. In the first five months in Okaloosa and Walton counties alone, ECCAC has empowered 2,100 students and 2,000 relevant adults with information and strategies to prevent, recognize and respond appropriately.
“Every year we try to create awareness of April being National Child Abuse Prevention month and the services that ECCAC can offer to child victims,” says ECCAC CEO Julie Hurst. “It is imperative that everyone do their part to help protect children.”
To create awareness of April being National Child Abuse Month, ECCAC is offering wreaths and yard signs for a $100 donation, and t-shirts for a $15 donation. Purchase online at ECCAC.org or call 850-833-9237 (Okaloosa County) or 850-892-0280 (Walton County).
– Kay Phelan
- Art Classes & Workshops
- Art Events
- Art Galleries
- Artist Joey McKenna Steps into Nature This Month at SoWal Library
- Call to Artists
- Adopt a Family for the Holidays
- Community Bank Invests $15,000 in NWF State College Students
- Making an Impact: Over $500K Awarded to Local Nonprofits
- Caring and Sharing: Café Thirty-A’s Annual Christmas Charity Ball
- Hold the Dishwashing, Please… Thanksgiving Dining Out Options
- North Beach Tortilla Co. Offers Sand and Sunsets in Santa Rosa Beach
- Overproof, Full Proof and Navy Strength Rums…and the Cocktails That Love Them
- Restaurant Guide
- Rosemary Beach Prohibition Repeal Wine Dinner Set for Dec. 7
- Where to Spend Your Happy Hours
- It’s Beginning to Look a Lot Like Hallmark!
- Local Film Screenings
- Reviews: Dafoe and Pattinson Shine in “Lighthouse,” Eddie Gets His Dolemite On
- Eric Paslay’s Favorite Live Tracks
- Live Music
- Rock Stars of Comedy… Gallagher Is Coming to Town
- The Pauseandplay.com Record Roundup
- The Record That Changed My Life: Al Alvarado
Harbor Docks Celebrates 25 Years of Thanksgiving Tradition
By Chris Manson Former Harbor Docks owner and Beachcomber contributing writer Charles Morgan credits longtime employee Ann Jones (a/k/a Miss Ann) with the idea of opening the restaurant on Thanksgiving Day....
Where to Spend Your Happy Hours
Baxter’s Bar & Grille 605 James Lee Road Fort Walton Beach 850-812-6868 When: 3-6 PM and 10 PM-Midnight daily. Closed Mondays (for now). Drink Specials: $3 wells, $2 drafts. Camille’s at Crystal...
North Beach Tortilla Co. Offers Sand and Sunsets in Santa Rosa Beach
By Lauren Sage Reinlie Northwest Florida has a new spot to unwind and soak up all the beauty the area has to offer. Chef Jim Shirley’s North Beach Tortilla Co....
Bob Luongo writes: “Two years ago my Jack Russell friend of 15 years died. Penny was my constant companion. For the last two years I’ve had many recurring dreams where I was...
Rock Stars of Comedy… Gallagher Is Coming to Town
By Nikki Hedrick Not many comedians reach household name status. Gallagher, by his account, has logged over 4,000 shows and over a dozen comedy TV specials, and has only been slightly...
Art Classes & Workshops
ARTS AND DESIGN SOCIETY (ADSO) Classes at the Art Center, Fort Walton Beach. More info at artsdesignsociety.org. Mondays and Wednesdays. Clay and Pottery Open Studio, 9 AM-noon both days and 6:30-9 PM Mondays. Beginners...