Planted on the south lawn of the state Capitol are 63 state of Oklahoma flags, representing each of the 63 children who were killed in Oklahoma last year through child abuse or neglect.
A few feet away, 1,100 American flags waved in the breeze, a solemn reminder that more than 1,100 children in America died because of child abuse last year.
The flags were planted, one by one, by members of Bikers Against Child Abuse (BACA) and Parent Promise.
“Children who died in their homes or caregiver homes,” said Charlie Swinton of Parent Promise. “They experienced terrorism in their lives from people they thought should have been caretakers and parents.”
At a time when child abuse continues to be an epidemic, advocates say state lawmakers, faced with a $1.3 billion budget hole, have stripped funding for prevention programs.
“To fill that hole, they cut $2.2 million of prevention of child abuse funds,” Swinton said.
Parent Promise has been stripped of all state funding. It’s an organization that works with parents to prevent child abuse.
“Probably 99 percent of them are not yet in the system,” said Sherry Fair with Parent Promise. “And that is what we’re trying to prevent is from them going into the system.”
Seeing the flags and what they represent, lawmakers News 9 spoke with agree funding should be restored.
"I think we can,” said Rep. Mike Sanders (R) District 59.
“Quite frankly, you’re looking at a situation where … this is what matters,” Sanders said. “This is where the rubber meets the road.”