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WC Students Make Pledge in Observance of the 'Week of the Young Child'

Symbolic Gesture Indicates 'This Hand Will Never Hurt a Child'

April 13, 2010

Sophomore Katelyn Massie traces her hand and signs the Campus Rock in a symbolic gesture during the

Sophomore Katelyn Massie traces her hand and signs the Campus Rock in a symbolic gesture during the "Week of the Young Child"

Numerous Wilmington College students studying teacher education have made a pilgrimage to the Campus Rock this week.

Once at the recently whitewashed, seven-ton boulder located just north of College Hall, they traced their hands with a colored marker and signed their names.

With that action, these aspiring teachers have make the pledge indicating that, “this hand will never hurt a child.”

The activity is being held in observance of the Week of the Young Child (April 11-17) and Child Abuse Prevention Month. WC’s Education Department and the student chapter of the education honor society, Phi Delta Kappa, are the local sponsors.

Michele Beery, associate professor of education, said the Week of the Young Child is a public awareness event put on nationally by the National Association for the Education of Young Children to call attention to the uniqueness and value of children through eight years old and all those adults that work with and for children.

“This year’s theme is ‘Early Years Are Learning Years,’” she said. “So we are promoting the research on brain development that indicates that early childhood is a critical time for learning.

“But equally important, young children are at the optimum age to learn kindness, compassion and friendship.”

Beery said this pledge comes at an especially opportune time as tragic incidents of bullying recently have come to light and captured the nation’s attention.

Indeed, in addition to the pledge made by College students, a number of young children from local elementary schools and day-care centers also are visiting the rock to add their handprint and pledge not to become bullies.

“Ohio has made it a priority to address bullying among students and, unfortunately, abuse of children by others continues,” she said, noting that the area’s financial stress and economic challenges often serve to exacerbate the problem.

“Perhaps prevention beginning with children at an early age is a key to interrupting the cycle of violence among classmates and families,” she said.