The Herald Bulletin

Overnight Update

Opinion

April 22, 2013

Editorial: Child abuse is a scourge that needs to end

There are not many crimes more heinous than child abuse. Children are beaten, sexually abused and some are killed, and in most cases they have no idea what is happening to them.

April is Child Abuse Awareness Month and, last week, a number of Madison County agencies got together to raise awareness of the scourge that is child abuse. The problem is bad all over and seems to be getting worse.

Nationally, according to the website Childhelp, the number of child deaths per day due to abuse has increased in the last 15 years by nearly two to five and a graphic shows a steep increase since 2008.

Childhelp says that a report of child abuse occurs once every 10 seconds. By far the most frequent abuse is neglect followed by physical abuse and sexual abuse. The consequences of this abuse includes 30 percent of abused children will grow up to abuse their own children, and the abused are 25 percent more likely to experience a teen pregnancy.

In Indiana, in 2010, the state had 95,148 referrals of child abuse. In the same year, 17 children in Indiana died as a result of abuse. A 2011 WRTV report began, “Federal statistics show that Indiana has one of the highest rates of child abuse and neglect in the nation.”

Despite all the good intentions of organizations dedicated to fighting this outrage, little headway seems to be made. One of the reasons is poverty, the same reason behind a multitude of social ills, including poor performance in school. It’s telling that cases of child abuse took a big leap after 2008 when the economy tanked, jobs were lost and jobs didn’t come back.

It’s true that child abuse can occur in any household, regardless of income, but poverty-stricken households see more of it. According to the Spotlight on Poverty and Opportunity website, “Poverty is the single best predictor of child abuse and neglect.” Other conditions in which child abuse is prevalent include situations of substance abuse, domestic violence or mental health issues.

The Madison County groups who have pledged to stamp out child abuse — Aspire Counseling Services, Children’s Bureau, East Central Indiana CASA, Indiana Department of Child Services and Madison County Prevent Child Abuse Council — participated in a candlelight vigil last week. They have their work cut out for them but must be relentless in getting out the word about child abuse.

Aspire estimated that 490 Madison County children suffer abuse or neglect each year. That ought to outrage people’s sensibilities to the point of helping these agencies reach their goals. Children are the future, and their lives are too important to be subjected to abuse by those who hold economic and emotional power over them.

The 20-hour Bids for Kids’ 25th annual televised auction is coming up on April 26-27. It will raise needed funds to help children. See what you can do to contribute.

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