To the editor:
No one likes to talk - or even think - about child abuse and neglect. It's just too ugly of a subject. But, the truth is by not acknowledging it and by not learning more about our part in preventing it we're in essence allowing it to grow.
Here's the facts. In 2004, 44,393 cases of child abuse and neglect were reported in the state of Kansas. In Leavenworth County there were 205 substantiated cases.
This treatment of Kansas children in and of itself is tragic. After all these children looked to their parents, family members and caregivers to provide for their health, safety and emotional well-being. But this tragedy extends beyond childhood. Research shows that the effects of child abuse and neglect often carry into adulthood revealing itself in the form of substance abuse, depression, physical disabilities, learning delays, criminal activity and continuing the cycle of abuse. Child abuse and neglect also increases the costs of child welfare, education, health care and juvenile justice.
Every time a child suffers, our community suffers.
April is Child Abuse Prevention Month, making it the ideal time to reflect on what we are doing as a community to support children and families. It is our job to learn more about child abuse and neglect so we can prevent it.
This month, wear a blue ribbon in support of Child Abuse Prevention month. Be aware of the needs of families and children within your own community and neighborhoods. If you suspect a child is suffering from neglect or abuse report it immediately to (800) 922-5330. This is an anonymous call that could be an important step to protecting a child in need.
Additionally, we ask parents and caregivers to be aware of the seriousness of dental neglect and the importance of dental care for their children. The long term impact of dental neglect in children can lead to failure to thrive in young children, eating, learning and speech problems as well as lower self-esteem. Poor oral health has been linked to poor school performance, mediocre social relationships and less success in later life.
This April, let's make sure the parents of our community have the resources and support they need. Think of what your dedication to protecting the children of Kansas will do for the future of Leavenworth County. For your blue ribbon or for more information about child abuse and neglect as well as dental health resources in your community, call (800) 332-6378.