Community partners, advocates, elected leaders, and government representatives converged at the San Vicente Youth Center yesterday morning for a proclamation signing that designated April as CNMI Child Abuse and Neglect Prevention and Awareness Month.
Gov. Ralph DLG Torres, who signed the proclamation, pointed out that many proclamations are made throughout the year, yet it was yesterday’s event “that really gets all of us. I think growing up we always say that children are our future. But how do we protect them?”
Torres then cited the second line in the proclamation, which read, “…every child is entitled to be loved, cared for, secured, and protected from all types of abuse and neglect to include verbal, emotional, physical and sexual abuse, exploitation and neglect. It is the responsibility of our society to protect and promote every child’s rights.”
Torres also credited Division of Youth Services administrator Vivian T. Sablan and all DYS staff for the hard work they’ve done throughout the years.
Lt. Gov. Arnold I. Palacios also shared his appreciation, saying, “I thank you DYS, and the folks at [the Department of Public Safety] for responding to these very difficult situations whenever you get a call at any time of day. Continue to advocate for the protection and nurturing of our children. They are our future.”
Sablan herself recognized DYS staff for working day in and day out, responding on a 24-hour basis on all three islands. “The front-liners go out there, go out into the homes. Even when the pandemic hit and we had austerity, we stayed open, we still had a 24-7 shelter and maintained operations. It was all for the protection of our children.”
Miss Northern Marianas Earth Maria Terlaje, who gave the closing remarks, said, “To DYS workers and volunteers, those who are also at the frontlines of these matters, your job is the hardest job in the world. A job that is never easy. But with your service, many children are able to smile and laugh, go to school and be educated, and create a future full of aspirations. These are the people that give our children love and strength where there is none. We give gratitude for you all.”
Terlaje also thanked the hardworking staff of Child Protective Services and reminded the community that children are truly our future and that they will create a more prosperous world. “Let’s help one another. Let’s continue to spread love to our children so that they can grow up to manifest that love to children around them,” she said.
Aside from Torres, Palacios, Sablan, and Terlaje, also attending the proclamation signing were first lady Diann T. Torres, Department of Community and Cultural Affairs Secretary Joseph P. Deleon Guerrero, Gherald Castro of Chacha Oceanview Middle School, Joann Garcia of Dandan Middle School, and multiple elected leaders and community partners.