by Steve Wright
The Family Healing Center will be sharing with KRL’s readers about the things they do once a month.
Our children today are suffering from a tremendous, but hidden epidemic. That epidemic is child abuse, neglect, and sexual assault. Throughout my law enforcement career I have seen and heard many things that I once believed came only from the darkest depths of our society. Those things that no one wanted to talk about, think about, or believe, was going on right under our noses.
Once I retired, I set out on a new path to provide assistance to victims of child abuse of all types. Away from the day-to-day work as a law enforcement professional, I realized that there was another world that I did not fully see until recently. Every day now I see the damage done to lives and families caused by child abuse; I hear the stories of the children who have been abused. The voices of these little children echo in my head day and night. They say how sad they are because mom or dad or uncle hurt them, but they still love them.
The pure, unconditional love of a child is unbelievable. How could anyone hurt a child? I ask myself this all the time, and never get any answers. One of the things we can do as a society is to try our best to prevent it from happening. It is incumbent on each and every one of us to become aware of this epidemic, understand the symptoms, the red flags, and do something. I firmly believe in the saying, “evil will prevail if good people stand by and do nothing”.
If you were to look at all the resources we put into other things we, as a society, believe are important to prevent, such as the Zika virus, it would make your head spin. There are currently 279 cases of Zika exposure or infection in the United States, but none of those pregnant women actually contracted the virus by being bitten by an infected mosquito in the U.S. They all contracted the virus while in another country. The damage done by Zika is primarily to unborn children, which makes it a huge priority, as it should be. Since February 2016 Congress has asked for $1.9 billion in emergency funding to fight the virus and prevent it from infecting the U.S. in epidemic proportions. As of today more than $600 million has been spent on various measures. We understand this type of response and prevention mainly because people are engaging in dialogue. The steps are established and being put in place to create awareness and prevent the spread of the bug and hopefully the virus. If we could only find a vaccine that would prevent people from being victimized, wouldn’t that be a glorious day?
We need to enter into a dialogue about child abuse, neglect, and sexual assault. So, let’s talk about it.
Did you know?
* A report of child abuse is made every 10 seconds. (www.childhelp.org)
* Every year, 3.6 million reports are made to child protection agencies in the United States
* In 2014, more than 1,580 children died as a result of child abuse and neglect
* 70% of the children who died were under two years old
* 80% of child abuse fatalities involve at least one parent as the perpetrator
* Approximately one in 10 children will be sexually abused before their 18th birthday (www.d2l.org)
* 23% of all 10-to-17-year olds experience unwanted exposure to pornography
* 44% of all rapes occur to children under 18 years of age
* 90% of child sexual abuse victims know their abuser
* In 2015, there were 278,332 children between the ages of 0 and 17 in Fresno County
* Substantiated cases of child abuse were nine per 1,000 of child population, or over 2,500 child abuse and neglect victims in Fresno County alone
* Studies show that less than 50% of these cases were actually reported
* Between January 1, 2012 and December 31, 2013, there were 19,922 allegations of child abuse reported to the Fresno County Department of Child Welfare. This is about 10,000 per year
* Of those cases, 965 were sexual abuse, with 780 of the victims being between three and 15 years of age
* Of those cases, 2,827 were Physical Abuse, and 49 were Severe Neglect, with 1,642 of those victims between the ages of 0 and 10 (Center for Social Services Research – University of California, Berkeley)
There is much more data to review, but I would like to ask a question at this point: Do you think we have a problem? Awareness is the first step in solving any problem. Once we see the extent and source of that problem, we can begin to take steps to solve or prevent it.
Imagine if we could prevent any of this from happening, just through our own simple actions. We all have a responsibility to be proper stewards of our society, our environment, our homes, and our property. We need to know how we can be proper stewards of children. Children are the priceless gems of our society, and if we take some very simple steps to protect them from being victimized, we should. Next month I will talk about the steps we can take to be proper stewards of children.