More than 63,000 calls to our 241-KIDS child abuse reporting hotline. Nearly 6,000 new investigations into child abuse and neglect. Almost 17,000 children involved in the child welfare system.
One is too many.
I would love it if our Children’s Services division suddenly found itself out of work. But there are 17,000 big reasons why we are necessary.
The worst part of it all? Recent studies show only about 10 percent of child abuse is substantiated by social service agencies. Much of it goes unreported or unproven. Many children suffer silently. Someone needs to speak for them.
April is the month designated for child abuse awareness and prevention. We are leading a “Wear Blue: Child Abuse is Preventable” effort here in Hamilton County. This is a statewide effort on April 9 encouraging people to wear blue to bring attention to child abuse and efforts to prevent it. We have reached out to local businesses, governments, social service agencies, schools, media personalities and more. Hopefully, you will see a lot of people in blue on April 9. I hope you, your family, friends and co-workers will join us in this effort.
For us, Wear Blue day is a conversation starter. It is a chance to educate. We need to engage the community, supply them with the facts on child abuse and tell them how they can help.
Child abuse is a significant community problem. Many citizens are unaware of how widespread the problem is. They are convinced it isn’t happening in their family or their neighborhood.
Believe me when I tell you it is happening in every neighborhood of this community. Believe me when I tell you it will take the whole community to solve it.
What leads to abuse? A plethora of social ills that can be passed down from generation to generation or suddenly spring anew. Among them: domestic violence, substance abuse and mental health issues.
It would be nice if we could make these issues disappear overnight. But we can’t, and they won’t.
So we – and I emphasize the word we here – must do what we can. Ask questions if you suspect abuse. Watch over your grandchildren, your nieces and nephews and your neighbor’s children. Demand that any threat of harm be removed immediately. And, most importantly, call 241-KIDS if you suspect abuse.
Other ways you can help: assist a struggling family member, mentor a young parent, become a foster parent, take a neighborhood child under your wing, advocate with a politician for laws that support child abuse prevention.
We cannot do this alone. It is easy to say, “Let the agency handle that.” It is much more difficult to say, “I am going to help solve this problem.” We need your help. Become our eyes and ears in the community. Visit www.doaskdotellus.com and educate yourself about the signs of abuse.
Please Wear Blue with us on April 9. There are 17,000 children – and many more that we do not know about – who are counting on us to bring attention to this issue.