Niagara Gazette — Niagara County businesswoman Candace Corsaro will never forget the last time she and her three children spent time with the neighbor children, and she will never forget having to tell her children that they wouldn’t see their friends again.
One Christmas Eve night in the late 1970s, Corsaro’s neighbor killed her two children. Corsaro and her children had been with the neighbors that very night, opening Christmas presents and playing merrily.
“My children were too small to understand or remember, but to this day, I remember,” Corsaro said.
Unfortunately, this type of story is not uncommon in our country or our community. The United States has the worst record of any industrialized nation — losing five children every day due to abuse-related deaths. We also see staggering statistics with regard to child sexual abuse. For example, one in four girls and one in six boys will be sexually abused before their 18th birthday.
Child abuse is not an isolated issue. It happens across all socio-economic levels and all neighborhoods — and it happens in Niagara County. In 2012, the Niagara County Department of Social Services received more than 3,300 reports of child abuse and neglect. They had 326 reports in January 2013 alone.
“The need for services is acute, as child abuse is a growing problem across Niagara County,” said Laura Kelemen, executive director of the Child Advocacy Center of Niagara. “Protecting our children is a job everyone needs to play a role in.”
With this need in mind, two community agencies dedicated to the protection of children, The Child Advocacy Center of Niagara (CAC) and Family & Children’s Service of Niagara (FACS) host a fundraiser called the Gala for Hope Niagara each year to raise money for the prevention and treatment of child physical and sexual abuse.
This year’s Gala for Hope Niagara will be held April 18 at the Conference Center Niagara Falls, 101 Old Falls Street, from 5:30 to 8:30 p.m. Tickets are available online at galaforhopeniagara.com.