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Turning a spotlight on child abuse

Published 9:32pm Tuesday, April 9, 2013

For most parents and grandparents — indeed for most people, whether they have children or not — it’s hard to imagine why someone would abuse a child. Especially in a society whose Judeo-Christian tradition holds that children are gifts from God, the cold facts of child abuse are incredibly hard to fathom.

Yet here in America, this nation of freedom and tolerance and widespread avowed belief in God, five children die every day as a result of child abuse and neglect, according to research from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. That gives the United States the worst record for protecting children from abusive parents and guardians of all the world’s industrial nations. Furthermore, the government estimates that half the child fatalities due to maltreatment are not recorded that way on death certificates, meaning the statistics are probably even worse than what the researchers have uncovered.

April is Child Abuse Prevention Month, and groups such as Prevent Child Abuse Hampton Roads have organized a variety of events around the nation to raise awareness of the problem and to raise money to help fight it and get endangered children out of the situations that could cost them their lives. Earlier this month, for example, PCAHR held a Celebrity Night at area restaurants, including the one at Cedar Point Country Club, where the organization raised funds for its educational and other programs.

Another organization that is taking a big stand against child abuse right here in Suffolk is Main Street United Methodist Church, which has a whole range of activities and observances scheduled throughout the month. Starting with a tree lit with blue bulbs as a reminder of the month’s theme, the church intends to make a visible and very public statement in support of children’s welfare throughout the month of April.

Five hundred blue ribbons with the names of children on them will be hung on the fence in the back of the church, and a Children’s Festival will be held April 28. As a part of the observation, organizers also are assembling “birthing kits,” which include rubber gloves, sterile items and receiving blankets for use by midwives in developing countries.

Though it seems unbelievable that child abuse and neglect could be such deadly and widespread problems in modern-day America, the statistics are clear, as is the need for such awareness-building activities as the ones being held this month by PCAHR and Main Street United Methodist Church. We can only pray that one day there will be no need for Child Abuse Prevention Month.

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