Editorial

Caring for Kids has an endless mission: protecting children from abuse.

The non-profit organization is widely known for its food bank it operation, which is part of the effort to help children and families.

But the core message and purpose of the organization is raising awareness on how to recognize, report and stop abuse of children. And, abuse includes neglect.

Abuse is a dark issue that gets some attention, but by nature it is embarrassing for victims and the communities where they live

How serious and widespread is abuse?

The Alabama Network of Child Advocacy Centers reports:

• A child is abused or neglected every 47 seconds in the U.S.

• More than 3 million children are subjects of at least one child abuse case each year.

• 1 in 10 (1 in 7 girls and 1 in 25 boys) children will be sexually abused before their 18th birthday.

• The median age for reported abuse is 9.

• 90 percent of perpetrators are individuals the child knows.

• More than 1,500 children died from abuse, including 25 in Alabama in 2018.

• 1 in 5 youth, ages 10 to 17, receive sexual solicitation or are approached online.

• Only one third of households with internet access protect their children with filtering or blocking software.

The Department of Human Resources investigates more than 1,000 cases of abuse and neglect annually in Cullman County. More than 200 local children are under the care DHR, not their parents, because of conditions at home that are unhealthy physically and mentally.

Across the United States, the federal branch of DHR estimates only 10 percent of abuse cases are reported. The figures are troubling, but the reality of what happens to the victims is devastating.

Growing up in an abusive family environment typically leaves lifelong scars. Teachers and others professionals who see children on a regular basis have more training than ever to help detect and report suspected abuse or neglect. But adults who are not trained professionals need more knowledge about how to recognize the signs of abuse.

April is the spotlight month to shine more awareness on abuse, but we cannot allow attention to this serious problem to dim the remainder of the year.

Gaining information about abuse and reporting suspected cases is a personal and community responsibility. The young victims of abuse don’t have the power to stop abusers, but responsible adults who have a role in their lives can be the ones who step up.

We encourage area residents to take time to explore the information provided by Cullman Caring for Kids and the work it’s performing. The organization has made inroads into reaching more people in our community about abuse.

Today, many innocent lives are dependent on the love, concern and knowledge of others that allows many children to have an opportunity for a better life. Cullman Caring for Kids deserves our community’s support in its mission to assist and protect those who cannot.

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