This is something that we’re all unfortunately familiar with — a parent has been arrested for neglecting or abusing his children. The names and faces change, but the stories remain the same, and it indicates a growing problem in the United States. So many of us can’t even bear to turn on the news for fear of hearing another awful story about child abuse. What can we do to help?
Children, not animals
A dad from Tulsa was roused from a stupor allegedly brought on by alcohol or narcotics and arrested when the police, summoned by a neighbor, discovered a naked 4-year-old crying outside and an 18-month-old girl, covered in feces, locked in a dog cage inside the home. A third child was discovered sleeping in another room, and all three are currently in protective custody.
The children fortunately show no signs of physical illness or injury, but Dad is in jail on child neglect charges. Kudos go to the neighbor, who was alarmed when the child’s cries went unanswered and found her outside with no clothes on.
Child abuse in America
The statistics on child abuse in the U.S. are staggering. According to Childhelp, America has the worst record amongst industrialized nations when it comes to child abuse. It’s estimated that five American children die each day as a result of child abuse — a horrifying statistic.
The statistics are even more harrowing when you consider the lives that abused children go on to lead. Around 80 percent of abused and neglected children suffer from at least one psychological disorder by age 21. About 30 percent of abused children will grow up and abuse their own kids. Fourteen percent of men and 36 percent of women in the criminal justice system were abused as children, and abused kids are 25 percent more likely to experience teen pregnancy.
What you can do to help
Childhelp has a number of resources for those who need help, from a 24/7 toll-free hotline [800-4-A-CHILD (800-422-4453)] to ways to handle a situation where you suspect child abuse or a child has told you that she has been abused.
There are also a number of things you can do to help spread awareness, raise funds and share stories of survival: www.childhelp.org/pages/take-action
With the proper tools and resources, hopefully the child abuse statistics in this country will take a turn for the better.
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