April has come and gone. Since April is Child Abuse Prevention Month I have always tried to write something to help with the awareness of the problem. But this year despite making bi-weekly trips to the Family Support Center and seeing the blue pin wheels spinning on th fence, I didn't get the job done.
As I was talking with the director of the Children's Justice Center, she mentioned that the pin wheels represented the 207 substantiated cases of child abuse that occurred in our area last year. It struck me as ironic that that was the exact same number of kids that registered for the county rec soccer program this year. There were the same number of kids that we did the right thing for as number of kids that we somehow failed.
These 207 kids came from all levels of socio-economic status. The issue of child abuse can touch each of us. It is not a matter of belonging to a certain religion or living in the right community. Certainly being stressed from lack of basic necessities seems to make people more prone to losing control even with kids, but child abuse is not limited to those living in poverty.
We have 90 children currently in foster homes in our community. That is more than three crowded grade school classes. That doesn't count the kids who are living with relatives because their parents are unable to take care of them. We need to celebrate those who step up for the children.
My husband and I are currently raising two of our grand children. Our lives have been changed forever by the child abuse incident that unfolded three years ago. The court in Arizona looked hard at their mother who had not been able to leave the domestic violence before he turned his wrath on our granddaughter. Whether the courts were right or wrong, our entire family was torn apart by one man's violence. He is still awaiting trial.
Domestic violence, child abuse and substance abuse are inseparable problems in our society. We must find a way to help the families that are caught up in this cycle. More funds must be found for proven solutions to the drug epidemic that is sweeping our communities. We need more long term resources for families that need to escape violence. We also need to provide safe treatment programs for the perpetrators so they may find it acceptable to seek help before someone is hurt or dies.
When available help is ignored or refused then we also need stiff penalties to make sure that those who are a menace to our society pay the price for hurting others.
Our granddaughter will forever bear the scars from what happened to her. Our family also bears the emotional scars of the impact this had on our lives. We are lucky because we have had each other to help us through.
There are 207 kids who are also bearing the emotional scars of events from this year.
Is there someone there to help them?