Look 8 year-old DJ in the eyes and say that to him. For years, DJ’s relatives physically and sexually abused him and one of his sisters while his parents were locked in their bedroom using methamphetamines. Tell that to his brothers and sisters who lived in a filthy home where garbage was knee deep.
Say that to any one of the one in 100 children in Texas who is a victim of some form of neglect and physical, emotional or sexual abuse. Stand by the grave of one of the 280 children who died of abuse and neglect in Texas last year and say it isn’t your problem.
April is Child Abuse Prevention/Awareness Month. Across the country, 2,700 children will be beaten and traumatized in some fashion today. In Texas that means that one of the 100 children in your church, the school down the road or the youngsters you see playing of playgrounds or athletic fields has been subjected to some form of abuse or neglect.
Thankfully we saw a small dip in confirmed child abuse cases a couple of years ago, but recent statistics show more children are being removed from their homes because of evidence of abuse and neglect. The downturn in the economy, which is stressing families, is thought to be a factor.
Why should you care? The reason is simple.
The toll as a society is significant. Not only is it expensive to care for children in the foster care system now, but it costs all of us in the long run.
Children who are abused often grow up to be abusers if they are not removed from unsafe homes and provided treatment. Children in foster care are more likely to have mental health problems including drug and alcohol addiction. These youngsters are more likely to drop out of school which limits their long-term earning potential. They are more likely to end up homeless, having children before they are ready, turning to crime and straining our already fragile social safety net.
We are past the point of saying it isn’t my problem. Each of us has an obligation to break the cycle of child abuse and neglect. If you know of a family that is stressed because of job loss or the economy, offer to help. If you see abuse, intervene or report it to (800) 252-5400 or go to www.txabusehotline.org.
But don’t stop there, make a personal investment. Take the time to mentor children who are at risk. Consider being a foster parent or adoptive parent. Explore becoming a volunteer for Bluebonnet CASA, Court Appointed Special Advocates by contacting us at 325-347-6474 and work for the best interests of children through the court system.
Make it your problem to solve.