AUTHOR Shelbie Lynn Bostedt

Talking about child abuse is uncomfortable for everybody, but for a child who is being hurt behind closed doors, it’s a necessity. Safe Socks, winner of the Community Involvement and Civic Engagement category in our 2016 Big Idea Awards, aims to give children a way to signal that something is going on that they desperately need to talk about.

The idea boils down to this: A parent or caretaker sets aside a pair of brightly colored socks. If something happens to the child and they don’t feel comfortable speaking up on their own, they simply put on the socks to send a message to their guardian that they need to have a conversation.

We’re now taking entries for 2017’s Big Ideas competition, so we checked back wtih Safe Socks creator Casandra Adkins about her year following the Awards.

What was your idea for the Big Idea Awards?

The idea for Safe Socks came from being a lifelong Chicagoan. I was born and raised here. And every year I hear stories about children being left home with the boyfriend and never found again.

How could these children possibly tell a person that they’re being abused, what could they possibly say? There are a lot of campaigns about, “Just tell somebody, say something.” But how do you set up that conversation as an 8 year old? I thought, “Well, what if there’s something they can use to throw up a flag so an adult can initiate the conversation?”

Nobody’s going to question your socks. You can identify a pair of brightly colored socks and say, “Hey, we’ll keep this away from regularly colored laundry and when you need to talk, whether it’s about bullying, abuse, whatever is on your mind, you just put on the socks to let me know that you need to be taken to a safe place or you have something you want to talk about in private.” It just made sense.

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