LASATA: April is Child Abuse Prevention Month

Each year in Michigan, tens of thousands of children are abused or neglected — about 90 per day. In 2019, very sadly, 63 Michigan children died from abuse and neglect.

Many factors contribute to child abuse and neglect. Certainly, mental illness is one. But joblessness, poverty, drug and alcohol abuse, domestic violence, broken homes, and violent communities can also lead to abusive and neglectful situations. Perhaps worse than the cause is the effect that abuse and neglect have on children. Beyond the physical injury that can occur is the psychological impact and long-term emotional and behavioral damage that may result. This damage often manifests itself in various ways, like depression, self-harm, delinquency, obesity, drug and alcohol abuse, and more.

It is a terrible thought, yet a sobering reality, that there are people in this world, and even in our communities, who would do something so horrific to these precious little children. Life is the gracious gift of God and should be protected and fought for. But there is something we can do about it.

I recently had the opportunity to take a tour of the Children’s Advocacy Center of Southwest Michigan, in St. Joseph. This wonderful group of caring individuals helps coordinate efforts with organizations to investigate child sexual abuse in our communities. More so, they seek to reduce the trauma of abuse that can be revisited during investigations and they strive to compassionately meet the needs of sexually abused children. If you would like to learn more about this organization or how to get involved, visit swmichigancac.org.

Preventing child abuse and neglect is just as important as treatment. April is National Child Abuse Prevention Month, a time we set aside as a society each year to learn how protective factors and adverse childhood experiences affect families and communities. The Child Welfare Information Gateway is an initiative that provides information and resources to help prevent child abuse and neglect. The group’s free 2021/2022 Prevention Resource Guide is a great place to start and features innovative preventive steps to help children and families thrive.

For more information on National Child Abuse Prevention Month and to download your free resource guide, visit ChildWelfare.gov.

As the saying goes, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. Together we can end child abuse and neglect.

Sen. Kim LaSata, R, represents the 21st district, which includes Berrien, Cass and St. Joseph counties in Michigan.

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