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Abused children need your help

For many in our community, spring is a busy time when we focus on events or go out to play and work in the beautiful weather. Unfortunately, there are youth in our community who do not get to enjoy this season of renewal because they suffer the hardships of physical, emotional or sexual abuse.

At a time when many are pulling out short sleeves and shorts, other children may be staying in their winter clothes to hide bruises or other injuries. When many children run outside to enjoy the sun on their faces, many others may be staying inside to make sure Mom has the help she needs so Daddy doesn't get angry. And while some of us regard spring as a time of replenishment, there are many children who are thinking, "Just let this day pass!"

In the year 2000, Crawford County had the second highest reported abuse rate in Indiana! Today's economy is adding an additional level of stress in many families already burdened with making ends meet.

As we go out to plant seeds in our spring gardens, Prevent Child Abuse Crawford County hopes to plant the seeds of hope for the families of Crawford County. Each of us has a personal responsibility to ensure every child is nurtured and protected.

Thank you to everyone who attended and participated in April's Prevent Child Abuse Awareness Month events. Each of us can grow in support of our most valuable resource — the children of Crawford County. Be a voice for them and against abuse and neglect. Educate yourself and others. Learn more by visiting www.pcain.org or by calling 1-800-CHILDREN.

Ten reasons to prevent child abuse

1.) Child abuse can be fatal. Each year, an average of three children a day are fatal victims of maltreatment. The vast majority of these children are under a year old. In Indiana in 2003, there were 51 children who died as a result of child abuse and neglect.

2.) Child abuse stymies a child's normal growth and development. The emotional and physical damage children suffer from abuse and neglect is extensive. Documented consequences of abuse include chronic health problems, cognitive and language disorders, and socio-emotional problems, such as low self-esteem, lack of trust and poor relationships with adults and peers.

3.) Child abuse is costly for many social institutions. Remediation of the immediate consequences of serious physical abuse alone costs child welfare agencies, hospitals and rehabilitation facilities millions annually.

4.) Child abuse costs continue to multiply over time. For example, children killed as a result of abuse or neglect never have the opportunity to contribute to society. In the past five years, these deaths cost more than $3 billion in lost future productivity.

5.) Child abuse victims often repeat the violent acts that they experienced on their own children. Although some victims can overcome the scars of their abuse, child abuse victims are six times more likely to become abusive parents.

6.) Treatment services, while critical, are often ineffective in permanently altering parental behaviors. Program evaluations have found that even sophisticated clinical demonstration projects, often consisting of weekly contact for 12 to 18 months, only eliminate the future likelihood for physical abuse or neglect for less than half their clients.

7.) Prevention programs targeted at parents before they become abusive or neglectful reduce the likelihood for future maltreatment. Home visitor programs for new parents have consistently demonstrated the most positive outcomes. Specific gains include improved mother-infant bonding, enhanced parenting skills and more consistent use of health care services. Recipients of these services also have demonstrated a reduced rate of child abuse when compared to comparable groups of parents not receiving services.

8.) Prevention programs targeted at children can improve a child's awareness of how best to avoid child abuse and other unsafe practices. Repeated reviews of numerous evaluations of these programs indicate that such efforts can result in increased knowledge for children about safety rules and what they should do if they are being abused. Further, the programs create an environment in which children can more easily disclose prior or ongoing maltreatment.

9.) Child abuse prevention efforts serve as a way to combat other social problems of concern to the public and to policymakers. Research has found a strong correlation between a history of abuse and a variety of adult problem behaviors, including substance abuse, juvenile and adult crime and poor social adjustment.

10.) Child abuse prevention creates a more compassionate society, one which places a high value on the welfare of children. Ensuring the safe and secure rearing of the next generation requires the efforts of all policymakers and all citizens. To the extent all are involved in the battle to prevent abuse, all are made more aware of the need to nurture human potential in all that we do.

(Source: Dr. Deborah Daro, Prevent Child Abuse America)

Lisa McSpadden, Hoosier Hills PACT Representative
May 13, 2009

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