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The Continuing Effort to Prevent Child Abuse

By: Norma Stillings

Even before the “Go Blue” Child Abuse Awareness Committee was organized in Douglas County, there were agencies and individuals who were concerned and working to prevent child abuse. The Children’s Division of Family Services, the Douglas County Health Department, Bikers Against Child Abuse (BACA), Kiwanis, and others were working independently and sometimes in partnership to stop child abuse. Several state and national organizations were conducting campaigns to bring child abuse to the attention of society.

Child abuse can be defined as: any mistreatment of a child that results in harm or injury. It can be physical abuse such as beating, burning or punching. It can be emotional abuse from an ongoing pattern of criticism, insults, and rejection. It can be sexual abuse including rape, touching/fondling, or involving a child in pornography. It can be failure to provide for a child’s basic physical, medical, emotional or education needs. It involves a situation where the child is at the mercy of an adult who has some sort of control over the child.

An abuser is often someone the child knows, possibly a parent, a neighbor, or relative. It can happen in families in all cultures at all education and income levels, but poverty, lack of social support, and family stress can increase the risk.

It has been said that approximately 3 million cases of suspected child abuse are filed in the U.S. each year. Many cases may never get reported. It is a problem that touches all of us. Child abuse affects families and communities even after the child grows up. It can lead to violence, substance abuse, mental health problems, and the abused child may grow up to be an abuser. With the right treatment and support, victims of abuse can overcome the past and lead happy healthy lives, but it takes effort.

These are some of the reasons that the “Go Blue” Child Abuse Awareness Committee continues to work to prevent child abuse.