Preventing child abuse is everyone’s job

Published 8:39 am Wednesday, April 25, 2018

This month, people throughout our country are being reminded of something they would rather not know happens.
April is Child Abuse Prevention Month and many organizations that have the specific goals of stopping child abuse are working hard to show just how prevalent this tragedy is.
We would rather not know that there are more than 3 million reports of violence and maltreatment of children each year in the United States. It may interest you to know that last year in Carter County, there were 768 reported child abuses cases of which 75 were substantiated.
We would rather not know that there are five deaths of children per day in the U.S. to abuse.
Every hour, there is allegation of child abuse in Tennessee. Unfortunately, child abuse is a problem in every county and community across Tennessee.
We would rather not know that, as widespread as child abuse is, two-thirds of the incidents in our country go unreported.
But knowing these statistics and knowing how big a problem mistreatment of children is can be the key to getting people to file reports with the proper authorities before a child becomes the next statistic.
Elizabethton residents know just how horrible child abuse can because of an incident of child abuse when three-year-old Ja’ Kari Phillips died from injuries allegedly suffered in 2016 at the hands of his stepfather, who is still awaiting trial on the charges.
Earlier this month blue pinwheels were planted in front of downtown businesses as part of an awareness campaign by Prevent Child Abuse Tennessee.
There’s hardly a week goes by that a case of neglect concerning a child does not come up in Carter County Sessions Court. Ensuring children have the opportunity to grow up in a safe, healthy environment is everyone’s responsibility. Children deserve to grow up feeling safe, nurtured, and loved and the pinwheel gardens planted in downtown Elizabethton and across the state of Tennessee this April show our commitment to families in the communities where we live and work each day.
No child deserved to be abused, neglected or mistreated at the hands of anyone.
Child abuse occurs across all socioeconomic levels, ethnic and cultural lines, religions and education levels.
While “special months” are good for calling attention to a particular cause, fighting child abuse must remain a daily battle.
The stakes are high and we must never ease up in the fight to stamp out this horrible injustice.
We’ve reported on too many child abuse and neglect cases in the Elizabethton area. Some have involved serious physical injury, but many cases go unreported and the children suffer in silence.
Child abuse in Carter County is your problem, my problem, and our community’s problem. If you suspect a child is being abused or in danger, call the local Department of Human Resources, 911 or local law enforcement.
Children don’t always report the abuse right away because they are afraid, have been threatened or don’t think they will be believed. We need to be their voice and speak up immediately.
As a society, we must each take steps to protect the welfare of all children. That requires each of us to be an advocate for children and intervene when we witness or suspect abuse by reporting those cases to local authorities immediately.

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