OKLAHOMA CITY (KFOR) – Over a thousand American flags are now on display at the Oklahoma State Capitol.
“Even one flag is too many,” said House majority leader, Rep. Jon Echols.
Each flag represents a child who dies of abuse or neglect in America every year.
On Monday, members of the Oklahoma state legislature and community leaders gathered to march from the capitol to the field of flags, while hauling our state flag.
29 Oklahoma flags stand tall, illustrating the children who have died of abuse in our state.
“Last time we put a field up there were 62 Oklahoma flags out there, 62, we had to do double rows. This year the numbers are down a little bit they’re down to 29, but even one is one too many,” said Parent Promise board member Charlie Swinton.
The flags serve as a reminder to lawmakers and the public that protecting Oklahoma’s children is a combined responsibility.
“The more we can focus on how we can do the best for Oklahoma’s children, the more we can come together as a state,” said Rep. Echols.
Parent Promise executive director Sherry Fair says last year’s numbers confirm just under 16,000 cases of child abuse in Oklahoma.
Recent reports to DHS show this year’s cases are more severe.
Fair says this could partially be due to the pandemic, while children have been isolated behind closed doors.
“We have to do better for our children,” said Fair.
There’s no one solution, but the group says legislation aimed at preventing abuse would continue to help.
“We need superheroes, and they’re standing right here,” said Swinton.
For now, the flags stand as a reminder and call to action to protect those who can’t always protect themselves.
“If we don’t bring attention to this and are in this together, those that can’t speak for themselves will have no voice,” said Rep. Echols.
If you need assistance you can visit https://parentpromise.org/.