To the point week of 3/29/07

360

CHILD ABUSE IS SOMETHING that very few people want to acknowledge, but everyone knows that it is one of the most heinous crimes against a person and a society that can occur.

But it also is a topic that makes us uncomfortable, so many times we just choose not to think about it or talk about it. More often, family members rally around the perpetrator of the crime – because “what would everyone think if they knew something like ‘that’ could happen in our family.”

Well, April is “Child Abuse Prevention” month, and its a time when local, state and national groups not only want you to pull your head out of the sand – they are praying that you do so.

I pulled some statistics from the Indiana Youth Institute’s website about Switzerland County children. Sometimes when you’re dealing with a small population, when numbers are converted to percentages they can be alarming, but there are some figures that I found disturbing.

The website shows that in 2005 there were 2,582 children age 0-19 living in Switzerland County. That’s 27.2-percent of our population. Nearly all of them are white; and there are slightly more males than females. The site goes over all sorts of statistical data on our children, but there is a section on “Child Protection” that drew my attention.

When giving the number of reported child abuse cases that were processed by Child Protection Services, in 2005 the number was 44.

In 2000, the number was 20.

No matter if you use numbers or statistics, the number of reported child abuse cases more than doubled over a five year period.

The number of reported child neglect cases processed was 116 in 2005; that’s up from 87 in 2000. The number of physical abuse cases fell from five to four; and the number of reported sexual abuse cases fell from eight to six.

One very interesting statistic was the number of child neglect cases that were actually substantiated by Child Protective Services. In 2000, it was 41; in 2005, it was three.

Three.

That caused the “Child Abuse and Neglect Rate” in Switzerland County to fall from 22.4 percent in 2000 down to 17.6 percent in 2005.

But is that a “real” statistic?

There is a word in those first few statistics that bears pointing out - ”reported”.

The rise in the number of reported cases over five years could be that people are more sensitive to what’s going on , and they are more likely to report the behavior that they see. That’s a good thing.

The problem is that the number of substantiated cases dropped so dramatically. What does that mean? It means that even though the reports are increasing, they are not being able to be substantiated by law enforcement or social service personnel.

Does that mean that it’s not happening? Perhaps, but it may mean that again – like years ago – family members are protecting criminals because of the perception of how it will appear to the community. Families prefer to keep these crimes “among themselves”, and in doing so they are destroying the life and self esteem of the child, and possibly cause other young people to experience the same crime.

I’m hoping that the number of child abuse cases is falling here, as the statistics show. I hope that vital educational groups such at the Switzerland County Child Abuse Prevention Council are making headway in getting people to understand the importance of stepping forward. I hope family members are seeing the wrong things and they are stepping forward and saying “enough is enough”.

I’m hoping that people are smart enough to see that imposing themselves on a child isn’t fair or right or legal, and they are helping others get the help they need.

I’m hoping, but I don’t know that I’m convinced.

Last year in Indiana there were more than 63,000 children being reported as abused or neglected. Over one-third of those were substantiated.

And 70 children died at the hands of a family member or friend.

Those are chilling statistics, and they are statistics that each and every one of us needs to take note of and vow to eliminate.

Not reduce. Not slow down. Not ignore.

Eliminate. Completely.

We as adults all talk of our desire for our children to have a better life than we had, but in order to do that, we need to make sure that the cycle of violence and neglect and abuse is stopped. Only through staying informed and alert can we help to stop this plague on our society.

We can stand and help, or we can continue to ignore the problem.

But it isn’t going to go away if our heads are in the sand.

*

Thanks to those who continue to provide ideas for ridding my lawn of moles.

Joann Gullion led through a design involving a shovel, a piece of board, and some long nails that should be promising; Sharon Hansel provided a recipe for a mole-concoction similar to my mother’s; and my older brother, Mike, who called to remind me that if “you get rid of the bugs, you get rid of the moles.”

That corresponds with many folks who have told me that the rise in moles is because of the larva of the 17-year locust that are hibernating in the ground.

Thanks again for your help. With all of this information, this county will be mole-free by the start of summer.