Penn State York students in the Council on Family Relations (PSY-CFR) Club, and members of other human development and family studies (HD FS) classes are preparing for the seventh annual candlelight vigil for child abuse awareness set for Thursday, April 5 at the campus. The vigil takes place at 5:30 p.m., but other programming and information will be available beginning at 4 p.m. as part of the weekly Coffee Hour on campus. The program, in the conference center in the Main Classroom building, is free and open to the public.
A speaker, child abuse awareness and prevention information, activities, and refreshments are planned. At 5:30 p.m., the group will head outdoors to light candles and participate in a vigil.
"I am happy to be a part of the Candlelight Vigil again this year for my final time. The Candlelight Vigil is one of the things I loved doing at Penn State York,” said Shawnee Hostetter, president of the CFR Club and a senior at Penn State York majoring in human development and family studies (HD FS). “Although child abuse and neglect is a sad topic, I am happy that we are able to bring awareness to the community and individuals on our campus. The first step toward change is awareness, and I am proud to be a part of this change for preventing child abuse.”
In the fall of 2011, students in the Human Development and Family Studies Club — now the PSY-CFR Club — made plans to hold an event in November to raise awareness about child abuse and provide information about prevention. Work on this event intensified, and a decision was made to make it an annual event, after the 2011 revelations about Jerry Sandusky sexually abusing children were presented. Since that time, a vigil has been held annually.
The vigil was moved from fall to spring since Childhood Abuse Awareness month is in April, and features students in the human development and family studies department sharing an important message of hope and healing.
Participants in the vigil will light a candle and are invited to say the following pledge: “I believe that every child has a right to grow up free from the shadow of abuse. I believe that the responsibility to protect children rests solely in adult hands. I believe that, as adults, we must remain ever-vigilant and dedicate no less than the best of ourselves to that purpose. To all the victims of abuse, male and female, adult and children, known and unknown: I pledge to educate myself about the realities of child abuse; I pledge to give a voice and report any and all suspicions; I pledge to cast a light in the darkness by doing the right thing the first time, every time.” A moment of silence will also be observed.
Coffee Hour is held each week at Penn State York as a way for students, faculty, and staff to meet and discuss a variety of topics, learn something new, and have fun.