Caring people volunteer to address abuse

Friday, August 12, 2011
Members of the Marshall County Board for Junior's House work on the Blue Ribbon Walk for Sept. 15 Pictured, from left are, Carol Foster, Anna Childress, Candi Mitchell, and Elizabeth Jackson. Photo Submitted

It only seems like Americans have gone crazy for ribbons: yellow for returning soldiers; pink to find a cure for breast cancer; and now blue to deal with child abuse.

Volunteers now advocating blue ribbon displays, however, are unanimous in their desire to deal with child abuse and take steps to stop crimes that would appear to be everywhere.

Another example of what motivates them is the Blue Ribbon story.

It started in Virginia during 1989 when grandmother Bonnie W. Finney tied a blue ribbon to the antenna of her van, hoping people would wonder why. Her story is about the abuse of her grandchildren and brutal death of her grandson.

Bonnie's grandson was placed in foster care after being released from the hospital for severe bruising on his body and cigarette burns on his hands. Three weeks later, he was returned to his mother's care and his grandmother never saw him again. When her granddaughter was hospitalized for a severe beating - a leg was broken in four places - and burns on her hands, people started looking for her grandson. They learned that he had been killed, wrapped in a sheet, and stuffed in a toolbox that was dumped in the swamp.

Bonnie's grandchildren suffered and, in her efforts to understand what happened, she placed a blue ribbon on her antenna to make people wonder.

People asked her "Why blue?"

The ribbon was a plea for child abuse to stop. she said. And it's a constant reminder of the battered and bruised bodies of her grandchildren.

The story of Bonnie Finney demonstrates the effect that just an individual can have to raise public awareness of child abuse and the need to prevent it.