April is Child Abuse Prevention Month and I always like to use it as a time to remember why I became a social worker. As my duties have expanded and I have taken on responsibilities that stretch across the whole agency, I do not get to spend as much time on the heart and soul of what we do: helping children and families.
In the early 1990s, while working in a real estate company with a finance degree, I was fortunate enough to become a Big Sister to a foster child. She captured my heart. From that point on, I was hooked on helping abused and neglected children. I sought a master’s in social work and I became a Children’s Services caseworker.
So, when April rolls around each year and someone mentions it is Child Abuse Prevention Month, I try to take a moment to reflect on the human side of our business. I put aside the budget figures, the administrative duties and the personnel issues and I think back to my early days as a caseworker and how fantastic I felt when we could make a positive difference in the life of a child.
Nationally, approximately 1 million children are found to be victims of abuse and neglect in a given year. More than 1,500 children die from abuse each year. It takes more than $100 billion to respond to that abuse.
In Hamilton County, there are more than 6,000 reports of abuse and neglect each year. That is more than 6,000 children who need our help. I cannot think of a more important job.
These statistics are not acceptable. We all need to make this a high priority in this community. Child abuse prevention is not just the job of our Children’s Services division. It is the job of everyone in this community.
We will join several other community organizations on April 2 and plant more than 6,400 colorful pinwheels – each representing a report of child abuse or neglect to Hamilton County’s 241-KIDS hotline – near the Underground Railroad Freedom Center. The pinwheels, which depict the innocence of a child, are a dramatic attempt to draw attention to child abuse. Pinwheels for Prevention is part of Prevent Child Abuse Ohio’s statewide campaign to promote awareness and prevention of child abuse.
Please join us for the event. We start planting at 9:30 a.m. Thursday. We cannot win this battle by ourselves. Child abuse prevention is everyone’s job.