The message of April's Child Abuse Prevention Month is simple - It shouldn't hurt to be a child.
Unfortunately, there are many children out there who are hurting -physically and mentally - because some adult has chosen the path of abuse and neglect.
The Jefferson County Job and Family Service, Children Services Division, investigated 467 reports of child abuse and neglect. About 20 percent of the reports were substantiated.
More than 900,000 children across the country were victims of child abuse and neglect last year. There were 100,000 reports in Ohio alone.
April was first declared Child Abuse Prevention Month by presidential proclamation in 1983. There was a time when animals had more rights than children.
The majority of child abuse cases stemmed from situations and conditions that can be preventable when community programs and systems are engaged and supportive, according to the National Child Traumatic Stress Network. A community that cares about early childhood development, parental support, and maternal mental health, for instance, is more likely to foster nurturing families and healthy children, according to the organization.
There are numerous instances of child abuse occurring in homes were the mother brings in a live-in boyfriend, who ends up hurting the child. Single parents are urged by the county's children services division to choose their partners carefully.
There also have been babies born who were addicted to drugs because the mother couldn't stop her habit during pregnancy. In fact, children services just recently was called about such an instance. Imagine a newborn having to go through the pain of withdrawal from the drugs the mother used during pregnancy. Those babies face mental and physical disabilities as they get older.
It takes a community to protect a child.
If you suspect child abuse or neglect, don't hesitate to call the police of children services. Inaction may result in injury or even death. It is better to make the call instead of waiting. Children services or the police will investigate and take appropriate action if necessary.
Nobody likes to see a child crying. They should be happy.
But there are parents or partners of single parents who don't care about that.
Maybe they themselves were abused when they were children.
The caseworkers at children services have a difficult job. It can be mentally exhausting to deal with children who are hurt because of abuse and neglect.
Make their jobs easier by helping to report child abuse and neglect to authorities.
It shouldn't hurt to be a child.