National Child Abuse Awareness Month was first observed in April of 1983, after a proclamation by President Ronald Reagan. Prior to this, Congress instituted the first National Child Abuse Prevention Week in June of 1982. The origins and implementation of child abuse prevention programs began at the federal level with The Bureau’s National Center on Child Abuse and Neglect. These efforts initiated activities designed to spread awareness and prevention tips.
Since our nation began recognizing National Child Abuse Awareness Month, many nonprofit organizations have been created using the resources acquired through the initial spread of awareness. Groups such as the Children’s Bureau, Child Welfare Information Gateway, and countless community-led programs have sprung up to raise awareness and improve the lives of disadvantaged children in their own neighborhoods.
Unveiling the Child Abuse Problem in Our Community
Many child abuse cases stem from trouble at home with parental substance abuse and eventual neglect. Other times, the child abuse originated in previous genearations and the traditions are simply being carried on as a normal way of life. Without the benefit of outreach programs and preventative measures, children will continue to suffer from negligence and abuse, generation after generation.
The ramifications of this are endless. Children who come from abusive environments tend to have weaker physical health, slower brain development, and many contract sexually transmitted diseases as a direct result of their abuse. In addition to these children being more likely to enter a life of crime, this creates a stronger financial burden on the community to help them recover. More than just a physical or financial mark, these children are also scarred mentally for the rest of their lives.
Breaking Down the Statistics of Child Abuse in the US
Many abused children develop anxiety, depression, dissociation, and paranoia at young ages, turning to substance abuse or self-harm as a coping mechanism when they are unable to find help. The cycle of abuse perpetuates itself, from the initial trauma, to toxic coping methods, and more abuse. The cycle must be broken.
There are staggering long-term effects felt by the abused children and their communities. It was estimated in 2012 that child abuse costs taxpayers about $220 million every single day, through claims investigation, foster care support, and medical treatments. This number has only climbed in recent years. In Spokane, for example, an average of 15 children are neglected or abused every day. These children are over 50% more likely to end up in juvenile detention centers, and 30% more likely to commit crimes of a violent nature. This is especially alarming given the fact that Spokane has child abuse rates that are over 50% higher than the national average.
Prevention is the Way to Stop Child Abuse in Its Tracks
For all these reasons and more, prevention is of utmost importance to improving the lives of abused children around the nation. One of the best methods is through raising awareness of the issues children are facing today and providing access to the resources that can help. This is why nationally instituted months dedicated to raising that awareness are so helpful. Prevention has proven to be most effective at curbing neglect and abuse within the home, before it even starts.
Community Outreach is the Key to Preventing Child Abuse
Statistics show that children often do not know that they can reach out for help and publicly speaking about these issues can help children feel more comfortable coming forward. A system of community driven support is necessary to the betterment of children’s lives and the prevention of child abuse.
It is important to use community outreach programs to provide these children and families with a safe refuge and healthy alternatives to the toxic behaviors within their homes that they may feel they cannot break free from. Without these preventative measures, millions of children die each year as a result of negligence and abuse . Those that survive will spend their entire lives recovering from the mental and emotional trauma that they endured.
It Is Important to Raise Awareness to Stop Child Abuse
Raising awareness and allowing children to feel comfortable talking about these issues with a trusted adult can also help improve a child’s overall well-being, giving them higher self-esteem and independence. Even just knowing about these important resources can help families that are more susceptible to toxic patterns reach out for help and establish a more secure and happy home life, which in turn helps to stabilize the communities around them. Children will be better equipped mentally to deal with potential abuse issues and less likely to engage in crime or abuse in the future, which benefits all of society in the long run.
Ways You Can Help to End Child Abuse in Spokane
Given Spokane’s shocking child abuse statistics, it is safe to say that our community could greatly benefit by investing in building local awareness and implementing preventative action. The tools needed for this, such as outreach programs and community activities and resources, already exist, they just need to be utilized and that’s why National Child Abuse Awareness Month is so important.
There are many options to help spread awareness about this national issue. You can volunteer your time to public events centered around raising awareness, donating to your local children’s daycares, schools, and nonprofits, or even just talk about it on social media with a hashtag like #ncamp, #nationalchildabusepreventionmonth, or #stopchildabuse.
What We Do Every Day to Help Victims of Child Abuse
One community driven nonprofit that is providing support for victims of child abuse is Believe In Me. We are working to make sure every kid develops the self-confidence they need to succeed by helping to provide them with a safe place to call home, a family that loves them, a community that supports them, and opportunities to learn, develop self-esteem, and have fun.
At Believe In Me, we fund programs that directly benefit abused children in the community with rehabilitation and medical assistance, providing facilities designed to help the child heal from their trauma and return to a safer and happier home. We also support local foster care programs that help children attain a sense of normalcy in their disrupted lives with the goal of eventually forming secure relationships and a healthy home environment they can thrive in. If you want to help us achieve our goals in helping abused children in Spokane, please click on the link below to learn more.