The Center for Disease Control recently published a study concerning infants and neglect and abuse. We want to think, cute cuddly little babies are fairly immune to abuse. The truth is further from that ideal than most of us want to imagine.
According to the study, about 1 in 50 infants have been abused or neglected. Nearly a third of those were one week old or less. If there is any semblance of good news in this the majority of them involve neglect, not physical or sexual abuse. Maternal drug abuse is considered the culprit in most cases.
Our community has witnessed this problem and has been dealing with the consequences for several years now.
When the methamphetamine problem reared its ugly head here many years back, most of the agencies that deal with drug issues and child protection were caught off guard.
Up to then, the agencies were able to cope with the always present handful of drug cases that were in our area. Then meth came in with a vengeance and the old strategies of coping and helping were not enough.
Since that time they have learned a lot and set up new plans of action to provide more longterm care for families involved. Drug court certainly made a difference for a number of people I worked with, whom I did not think had a chance.
Still as we roll through the Child Abuse Prevention month of April, we all have to remember to be proactive in protecting all the children of out community.
Be involved in your school and children's sports teams. Consider being a foster parent if you are able. Find out what assistance the Family Support Center needs and give what you can. Also find out what other community needs there are by contacting United Way, your school or the local Department of Children and Family Services office.
The families that you reach out to today are the ones raising kids who can either grow up to contribute to our community or become a drain on it. It is a mistake to think that this is someone else's problem.
I can't tell you how many friends, acquaintances and others talk to me about family issues involving drugs and their kids. These are people in our community that are respected and known for the good things they do. It has changed their lives forever and their frustration and guilt are sometimes overwhelming.
For each child that has hope today, there may be one less that turns to drugs or crime in their later years.
That may be an impossible dream. But what the heck; we have nothing to lose by trying.