April is Child Abuse Prevention Month, a time to focus on the protection and care of our most vulnerable and trusting. Child Abuse Prevention Month has been observed each April since its first presidential proclamation in 1983. Since that time, individuals and organizations have joined together during the month of April to raise the public’s awareness of child abuse and its prevention.

According to Prevent Child Abuse America, the nation’s leading child abuse prevention organization, 43% percent of American parents report spanking or hitting their child within the last 12 months, 37% report insulting or swearing at their child, and two percent report having kicked, bit or punched their child. More than 3 million children were reported to child protective service agencies as alleged victims of child abuse or neglect, and approximately 1 million of these reports were confirmed.

The number of children who reportedly have died recently because of alleged physical abuse has been startling. The number of children who are victims of neglect and the ones who manage to survive emotional and physical abuse is far scarier.
Child abuse and neglect is a serious problem in the United States and a growing problem in Kentucky. Child abuse, both physical and emotional, produces very harmful consequences for society. Studies links child abuse and neglect with drug and alcohol abuse, teen pregnancy, and youth violence, just to name a few of the damaging societal consequences. In 2012 in Kentucky, 22 children died as a result of abuse or neglect and another 33 children nearly died from abuse or neglect. Also in 2012, over 95,500 children were involved in reports made to child protection services for suspected child abuse or neglect. In the United States about 5 children die every day because of child abuse. As a community it is essential that we support parents and families. Positive parenting is the key to the prevention of child abuse. As parents, we must strive to respect and nurture our children.

Neglect can come in many forms, ranging from inappropriate dress for the weather, to lack of food or medical attention to no supervision. “We as a community have to do better every day and not just when the issue is in the headlines,” said Todd P’Pool, Hopkins County Attorney. And now is as good a time as any. But what P’Pool wants us to cling to during April and all through the rest of the year is to recognize that children may not speak for themselves. “We must protect Kentucky’s greatest resource – our children.”

The Office of the Hopkins County Attorney offers these tips for those who aren’t sure exactly what to do to if they suspect a case of abuse or neglect.

•• If you see what you deem to be abuse or neglect of a child, call the state abuse hotline, 1-800-752-6200, and report it. Don’t stop at just one time. Call time and again if necessary. The report can be anonymous, but the caller must have some identifying information about the child, such as name, age, address or parent’s name.

•• Parents or caregivers who find themselves stressed and needing help should call 1-800-244-5373, a 24-hour hotline that provides the caller with resources to head of problems.

•• Reach out to neighbors, church members or acquaintances whom you recognize as needing help but who don’t recognize that themselves. Your intervention could save a child’s life.

•• Volunteer or financially support one of the many organizations working with children and families, such as the Family Advocacy Center in Madisonville, the YMCA, the Door of Hope or Prevent Child Abuse Kentucky (PCAK).

Hopkins County Attorney, Todd P’Pool believes, “We need to challenge the public with these distressing statistics and to encourage people to become involved in prevention. Any time a child dies or suffers abuse, we have failed as a society. All of us have failed that child. This month, let’s start taking that personally. Working together, we can come to the rescue of the next generation.”

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