My new-ish and dear friend Erin at Chopstitch informed me that April is National Child Abuse Prevention Month. This month she’ll participate in the “No Excuse for Child Abuse” walk in her town. When I saw her posts going up about child abuse, I started doing a little digging on the old Google.
“A report of child abuse is made every 10 seconds in America.”
“Almost 5 children die every day as a result of child abuse. More than three out of four are under the age of 4.”
“Child abuse occurs at every socioeconomic level, across ethnic and cultural lines, within all religions and at all levels of education.”
Those statistics? Are heartbreaking.
When I look at my son, even in his most horrifying toddler moments, I cannot imagine hurting him. I cannot fathom what it is inside of people that makes them hurt other people, much less children. I cannot imagine myself not wanting to protect him from every ounce of pain and hurt in this world.
Rage fills my body when I see news stories about parents who’ve neglected and abused their children. The kind of rage that has me seeing a murderous red. The kind of rage that leaves my fingers shaking and tears in my throat.
Hurt fills my heart when I think about what it must be like for these children to grow up in a world where they think the only people who love them show that love through hurting them. My heart hurts when I think of what might become of these children if they don’t get help. If this crime against children isn’t prevented.
Every single day that I get up and go into work, there are victims of child abuse in my classes. Perhaps not many, but even one is enough.
Most of them are silent about their experience because their adolescent mind doesn’t know how to cope. My adult mind doesn’t know how to comprehend, you know? How could theirs?.
Some of them are emotionally abused.
Some carry and hide physical scars.
Others are neglected by parents who don’t care. And neglect is abuse.
Those children who were mistreated in some way who do not speak up? Who are doing the best they can to hide their personal shame and fear, despite the fact that the shame should not be theirs? Who may be trying to hide their abuse, even as high school students? Who are trying to figure out how in the world they can make this nightmare stop?
They need a voice. And I have a pretty good one of those.
And so do you.
Just as with perinatal mood disorders and mental illness, if we don’t talk about child abuse, we do nothing to prevent it. We do nothing to help the victims who cannot help themselves. We stigmatize the issue and create a sense of shame for victims.
Let’s talk about this, people. Let’s be the voices for these children.
Throughout the month, I’m going to issue a series of simple challenges. I hope you’ll join me in accepting them.
The first challenge? Spread the word.
Take the button. Write a post. Tweet a link. Facebook this issue.
“Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter.”
–Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.
A special thanks to the mega-awesome and super talented
Lindsay for hooking me up with the Blogging for Children badge.