As a seasoned mom, I often muse about how my kids can drive me to the brink. It’s challenging to raise children under the very best of circumstances, so I can’t imagine coping under the duress of physical, emotional or financial hardship.
Most parents are equipped with the coping skills necessary to deal with stress, and the value system to cherish and safeguard their children. But sadly, according to Childhelp, more than 3 million reports of child abuse are made across our country each year. It makes me wonder how many incidents go unreported – how many voiceless children suffer. It makes me want to do something.
This month is a good time to start.
The Department of Health & Human Services dubbed April as National Child Abuse Awareness Month. Have you ever come into contact with an abuser, or an abused child? Imagine you witnessed a child being mistreated or abused; or if you suspected one of your students was the victim of sexual abuse. What would you do?
In my mind, as the saying goes - it takes a village. Since children are powerless, I believe I owe it to the ones in my midst – in the neighborhood, at school, at church, in the grocery store, even – to keep a vigilant eye open for maltreatment. And abuse cuts across all socioeconomic status. Abuse happens in my hushed, suburban neighborhood, too.
Child abuse exacts a premium in consequences - and costs - from our society. According to Childhelp:
- More than 5 children die each day as the result of abuse
- 14% of all men, and 36% of women in prison suffered childhood abuse
- About 30% of abused and neglected children will perpetuate the cycle and abuse their own children
- Some two-thirds of maltreatment cases involve substance abuse
- The estimated annual cost of child abuse and neglect in the U.S. in 2008 was $124 billion dollars
A bit of history
I always wonder about the origination of awareness months, and this one has evolved over the years.
The first Federal child protection legislation, the Child Abuse Prevention and Treatment Act (CAPTA), was passed in 1974. Since then the formation of the Children's Bureau at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services was tasked with providing programs and services to states and communities to protect children and strengthen families. In 1983, April was proclaimed the first National Child Abuse Prevention Month, when child abuse and neglect awareness activities are promoted across the country.
While each state implements a system to receive, and respond, to reports of possible child abuse and neglect, professionals and concerned citizens can call statewide hotlines, local child protective services, or law enforcement agencies to share their concerns if they witness or suspect abuse.
Because Lucky Kat’s so passionate about creating a safe online forum for children, we’re lending our support to the efforts this month. We believe all children have a right to personal safety and security. What can you do in your community to contribute? Can you volunteer to mentor a teen-aged mother, open your home to a foster child, or launch an awareness campaign at your church?
Please visit the following websites to learn more about how you can help prevent and report child abuse, and share this post with your friends, family members and colleagues. Because somewhere, a child is counting on you and me.
U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Child Welfare Information Gateway: http://www.childwelfare.gov/preventing/preventionmonth/history.cfm
Childhelp® National Child Abuse Hotline: 800-422-4453 1-800-4-A-CHILD