The Valdosta Daily Times
April is National Child Abuse Prevention Month, with numerous volunteers assisting the Child Advocacy Center in placing pinwheels on the lawn of the Valdosta City Hall. Each pinwheel represents one child that was a victim of abuse in 2013. Volunteers placed 887 pinwheels in remembrance.
Abuse can take many forms – neglect, emotional, physical, and sexual. Children who are abused generally experience all forms of abuse, not just one. And these aren’t children who are getting spanked by a parent as a form of corrective punishment. The children who end up with a pinwheel representing their suffering are victims of abuse so terrible that they need protection and care from the CAC.
All too often, the perpetrators of the abuse are those who should be the ones protecting them – parents and other members of their immediate families. All too often, though, the perpetrators of abuse were themselves victims, as the cycle continues if not stopped.
Statistics show that neglect is the most common form of child abuse, and neglect arises from not providing a safe, nurturing environment for a child, with adequate food, clothing and the expectation of freedom from harm. A significant contributing factor in child neglect is substance abuse.
A statistic from the Child Help organization states that children whose parents abuse drugs and alcohol are three times more likely to be abused and four times more likely to be neglected than children from non-abusing families. About two-thirds of those in treatment for drug abuse report also being abused as children.
Child abuse is cyclical. Substance abuse is cyclical. Victims grow up to be perpetrators. The cycle has to be broken before the number of pinwheels, the number of children who are abused each year, can decrease.
If you or someone you know needs help, contact the CAC, the Haven, law enforcement, clergy, a counselor, etc., to help them get the help they so desperately need. Let’s work together to get the number down for 2014.