Editorial: Help prevent child abuse
This is the 30th anniversary of National Child Abuse Prevention Month, a nationwide program launched in April 1983 to raise awareness of a serious public health issue that affects children physically, emotionally and developmentally.
The statistics on child abuse can be daunting, even demoralizing. Nationally, approximately 681,000 children were victims of maltreatment in 2011, with at least 1,570 children dying from abuse or neglect, according to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. That means that on the average day, five children will die from abuse or neglect.
In Rowan County, there were 2,827 reports of abuse and/or neglect last year, according to Prevent Child Abuse Rowan. Of those, 149 cases of abuse or neglect were substantiated. Beyond those numbers, however, many cases resulted in interventions to help families create safer, more nurturing homes for their children and prevent potentially dangerous situations from escalating.
That’s the encouraging message for the month. Organizations like Prevent Child Abuse Rowan, through the Terrie Hess House Children’s Advocacy Center, are working to identify problems before they reach the crisis stage and help create safer home environments through “education, intervention and support.” They both protect children from abuse and promote healthier interactions among family members. The ultimate goal is a stable, loving home for children.
Community support is crucial to success in this effort. While adults need to be aware of their legal responsibility to report any suspected instances of neglect or abuse, support for prevention programs can help provide the services that keep more children from becoming statistics.
What can you do? Donations are always welcome. You can find more information at www.preventchildabuserowan.org. The Terrie Hess House also has an ongoing list of needs, from books, toys and snacks to carpeting and a computer. Or you might use your imagination, like young Anna Chamberlain who volunteered at the Terrie Hess House and then decided to sell iPromise bracelets to help raise funds.
On Thursday, from 5-8 p.m., Chick Fil-A will donate a portion of its restaurant proceeds to Prevent Child Abuse Rowan, and on May 2, from 6:30-9:30 p.m., Team Chevrolet will hold a Bunco Tournament fundraiser for the agency.
There are many ways to support child abuse prevention efforts. Your participation can help make a difference.