April marks the 29th year that our country has recognized National Child Abuse Awareness and Prevention Month; and yet, 29 years later in the U.S., authorities receive a call about child abuse once every 10 seconds (86,400 calls each day). 19% of the time, those calls involve physical or sexual abuse of the child. Do the math….over 16,000 children are reported as victims of sexual or physical abuse each and every day; and that’s only the ones who are reported.
29 years later, after all the pomp and circumstance of that initial presidential declaration, abuse of children is still systemic, it’s still a behavior that perpetuates through generations of families, and it’s still a dark secret for many victims; especially when it comes to sexual abuse. President Obama’s declaration for 2012 only serves to reinforce the problem. It mentions the “over half a million” children who are abused or neglected each year, when facts show that number to be more than 3 million reported (with experts also believing that 2 of every 3 cases go unreported). Even our President is unaware of the gravity of the situation.
All over the country this month there are blue ribbons and pinwheels, stories of solidarity in small communities and large cities, everyone acknowledging that child abuse is bad. But after the blue ribbons and pinwheels come down, who is actually taking action and trying to make a difference? With numbers as staggering as these, action is required from everyone. Are you “aware” but not “preventing” child abuse?
One way that you can take a small step toward stemming this epidemic is by becoming an advocate for Children Without A Voice. This national organization works hard every day to shine a spotlight on horrific child abuse cases as they make their way through the courts and, through people just like you, CWAV reaches out to prosecutors and urges them to seek maximum penalties for the abusers.
When a prosecutor hears that a case is important to people, he or she is more likely to seek justice for the abused child, more likely to go to trial, more likely not to settle out of court and give the abuser a “slap on the wrist” punishment for the crime. Becoming a CWAV advocate will allow you to make a difference in a child’s life in a very direct and powerful way. No time to be an advocate? Then be a donor! You can find more information on the CWAV website.
This April, let’s make National Child Abuse Awareness & Prevention Month more about prevention and less about awareness. Being aware is a start, but it’s not enough. Please forward this article to friends and family and encourage them to get involved in the cause.