Beth Chapman

Beth Chapman

April is Child Abuse Prevention Month. Children’s charities will cover the doors of local businesses with symbolic blue ribbons, schools will have poster contests, and charities will take advantage of a heightened awareness and additional fundraising dollars. But what will you do?

On average, child abuse is reported every 10 seconds in this country, totaling over 3 million reports a year. Those are just the “reported” cases.

Each day in America, (the greatest country on earth and a “Christian nation”), at least three children die because of abuse and neglect in their own homes. Child abuse, not cancer or automobile accidents, is the leading cause of death for children ages four and under.

Only 15% of the expenditures of state and federal funds given to children’s programs are directed toward prevention. The other 85% goes toward problems, which have arisen because they weren’t prevented in the first place. Talk about getting the cart before the horse.

Daycare employees working with children during their most developmental stages are paid little. Educators who teach them are paid little, and even in the medical profession, pediatricians (not that some of these children have ever seen one) are paid less than any other type of physician.

Foster children in this state receive up to $19.05 for care a day, while our prisoners receive $42.54 a day. The average cost to board a dog in our state is around $40 a day. A travesty indeed!

There is a tremendous cost to us as a society and as individuals to do nothing. Child abuse and neglect are seen as social problems, but they are also economic problems. They increase costs in our education system, negatively affect our future work force, increase juvenile crime, promote predispositions to drug and alcohol addictions, contribute to our overcrowded prison system, decrease our work ethic and produce a decline in our nation’s moral values. Child abuse and neglect impact the entire future of the next generation.

So, what can we do to help?

Alabama native Helen Keller once said, “I am only one, yet I am one. I cannot do everything, but I can do something. I will not refuse to do the something I can do.”

Find a local charity – the Court Appointed Special Advocates (CASA), the Crisis Center, Children’s Trust Fund, VOICES for Alabama’s Children, Children First, your local child advocacy center, Alabama Youth Homes, King’s Ranch, or any number of children’s services offered in our state. The needs are many and they are great!

The children of today are the adults of tomorrow. Let’s work to prevent child abuse and neglect today, not wait to repair the damage tomorrow.

If you can give money, or time, or both, do it. But please, don’t refuse to do the “something” you can do!

Beth Chapman is Alabama’s former State Auditor and 51st Secretary of State.

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