Annual motorcycle ride brings
awareness about Child Abuse, Safety
INDIANAPOLIS, IN – The grandmother of a fatal child abuse victim hopes motorcyclists and even non-riders will help raise awareness about keeping kids safe.
Although 3-year-old Carmen Ellis is no longer alive, her memory lives on thanks to her family, friends and even people who never had to a chance to meet her.
“She was just the sweetest little girl and just very funny,” Tina Smith said.
Tina lights up talking about her late granddaughter Carmen. She and her husband, Lorin Smith who is also a motorcyclist, are organizing another annual fundraiser called the Carmen Ellis Memorial Ride, which started eight years ago following Carmen’s death.
“She died August 22, 2012, killed because of child abuse by my daughter’s boyfriend,” said Tina.
Every year since 2012, to remember Carmen, Tina has raised money for child abuse charity.
The Smiths have teamed up with local VFWs, which serves as some of the stops for the memorial ride. This year the fundraiser will also include kicking off with a breakfast where participants can make donations. The breakfast takes place from 9 a.m. to 11 a.m. with an all-you-can-eat buffet with a $7.75 donation. The memorial ride starts at The American Legion Post 495 located at 8725 East 38th St., in Indianapolis. The donation is $20 per motorcycle rider and just $5 per passenger. Kickstands up at 10:30 am.
The couple also plans to do a 50/50 drawing, auctions and raffles. Tina and Lorin don’t usually set a number of riders for each event but it has grown each year just by word of mouth. This year’s event will take place after missing last year.
The memorial ride happened last year but without Tina and Lorin. They both lost their lower left legs in crash with a distracted driver and spent months in physical therapy. So now they’re inviting everyone to be in Carmen’s Ride.
“You can be on a motorcycle, on a slingshot, a car, a truck or a van,” Tina said. “As long as it’s roadworthy you can be there with us.”
This year the memorial ride is even more special because it’s on Aug. 22, which is the same date Carmen received her heavenly wings.
Whether you do Carmen’s Ride or not Tina wants everyone to help with stopping child abuse.
“The child should come first,” Tina said. “They are so dependent on us, the adults, just adults to help them.”
April 2020 has been proclaimed by the President as National Child Abuse Prevention Month. The proclamation calls upon individuals to be aware of children’s safety and well-being, and to support efforts that promote their psychological, physical, and emotional development. April is also a time to highlight the importance of working together to prevent the abuse and neglect of children.
The U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) is committed to protecting children from abuse and educating them about how to protect themselves. U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) created the Angel Watch Center in 2016 to expand its work with foreign law enforcement partners, alerting them about the intended travel by convicted registered child sex offenders from the United States to their countries. The Center ultimately aims to stop the spread of transnational child sexual abuse.
Additionally, ICE Homeland Security Investigations (HSI)’s Project iGuardian program provides children, teens, parents, and teachers with information regarding the potential dangers of online environments and how to stay safe online. The iGuardian program team is committed to providing safety tips, a number to call, and resources to the public to avoid falling victim to online sexual predators.
As part of HSI’s Operation Predator, which was first launched in 2003, HSI has arrested more than 31,000 individuals for crimes against children, including the production and distribution of online child exploitation material, traveling overseas for the purpose of sexually abusing minors, and sex trafficking of children. In fiscal year 2019, more than 3,900 child predators were arrested by HSI Special Agents under this initiative and more than 1,000 victims were identified or rescued.
The Office on Trafficking in Persons (OTIP) is focused on preventing human trafficking and working to ensure that children and adults who have experienced trafficking and their families get the support and care they need to live safe and healthy lives. This focus remains the same during responses to public health emergencies such as COVID-19. As in times of disaster response, HHS recognizes that disruptions to local services, housing and economic stability, and social disconnection can further increase risk for victimization and exploitation.
Across the country, children have shifted to virtual learning which results in significantly more time spent online. In order to protect them, the Child Exploitation Investigations Unit at HSI reminds families that the agency has a variety of tools available on its iGuardian webpage to keep children safe while using the Internet.
The National Human Trafficking Hotline is fully operational during this health emergency. Polaris is continuing to update its website with resources and information for survivors.
Social Media Shareables
Tag Blue Campaign on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram using @DHSBlueCampaign. Each month we share content you can distribute on your social channels to raise awareness of human trafficking in your communities.
Predators and traffickers can gain access to victims online because people are not always aware of how dangerous these environments can be or how to keep themselves safe. Learn more from @DHSBlueCampaign: https://bit.ly/2xhHBJW
The Internet is a great way to stay in touch, but predators and traffickers oftentimes stalk online meeting places such as social media sites to lure their victims. Learn more from @DHSBlueCampaign: https://bit.ly/2xhHBJW
Harris County Sheriff: ‘We cannot let
a health pandemic become a
Child Abuse pandemic!’
HOUSTON, TX – With children spending all their time at home, Harris County Sheriff Ed Gonzalez is urging adults to be more vigilant about the children around them and to keep an eye out for signs of abuse.
“The number one reporters of child abuse are teachers,” Sheriff Ed Gonzalez wrote in a tweet. “But kids aren’t seeing them right now. Neighbors and other family members, PLEASE pay close attention.”
We cannot let a health pandemic become a child abuse pandemic! The number one reporters of child abuse are teachers, but kids aren’t seeing them right now. Neighbors and other family members, PLEASE pay close attention. Learn more at @Childhelp & the National Child Abuse Hotline
— Ed Gonzalez (@SheriffEd_HCSO) March 23, 2020
“It’s the time to be proactive (about child abuse) because we may be in this for the long haul,” Gonzalez told KPRC 2 in an interview.
“If you hear what sounds like painful screaming, things like that, that would be a red flag,” Gonzalez said. “You see clear bruising or things like that, anything like that… make sure and call the authorities and let us know, because we need to know.”
The Texas Department of Family Services offers educational videos and other materials to support parents and neighbors on its website.
“Right now the children aren’t seeing their teachers,” Gonzalez said. “It behooves all of us to step up, as neighbors, as family members, and keep a close eye, and make sure that we’re paying attention to anything out of the ordinary.”
Suspected Child Abuse can be reported to local authorities, or using the National Child Abuse Hotline: 1-800-422-4453 (24 hours a day, seven days a week).
If you see or suspect Child Abuse, please call 911 immediately!