Owens House kicks off Blue Ribbon Campaign for child abuse victims

(L-R) Cindy Greer, Owens House director, and Patricia Smith, retired Alabama Supreme Court Justice and Shelby County district court judge for 31 years. (Contributed)

By JAN GRIFFEY/Editor

COLUMBIANA — Numbers are important, said Patricia Smith, retired Alabama Supreme Court Justice and a district court judge in Shelby County for 31 years — be they positive indicators, or not so positive.

The number one, she said, represents Shelby County’s ranking by Alabama Kids Count Data Book.

Smith said Shelby County has consistently ranked number one by that group in terms of being the best place in which to live and raise a child in Alabama.

Despite that, Shelby County officials handled more than 1,000 cases of child abuse and neglect last year, involving almost 1,500 children.

“Those are shocking numbers, and we are the number on county in this state in which to raise children,” she said.

Smith addressed a small group of people gathered Wednesday morning at Owens House, Shelby County’s child advocacy center in Columbiana, to call attention to Child Abuse Awareness month and the good work happening Owens House.

The number 18, Smith said, stands for the number of years since Owens House founding by Shelby County District Attorney Robby Owens in 1993.

“His vision in setting up the center was not only to work with children who have been abused, but also to work to prevent child abuse,” she said.

In the last year, officials and experts at the center have conducted more 167 forensic interviews with abuse victims, as well as 764 counseling sessions, provided 73 support group sessions and taught 30 parenting classes.

In addition to working with child abuse and neglect victims and their families, Owens House officials work with Shelby County schools to teach children in hopes of preventing child abuse.

“The Owens House motto is ‘It shouldn’t hurt to be a child,’ ” Smith said.

Owens House is hosting its 12th annual Blue Ribbon Ride for Child Abuse Victims on Saturday, May 14. All proceeds benefit Owens House.

For more information, call 669-3333.