9/2/12 Speak up for kids – DailyBulletin.com
In the wake of the recent conviction of Jerry Sandusky for multiple sexual abuse offenses against young boys, along with a plethora of very public and high-profile reports of continuing abuses against our children (including those recently perpetrated by a third-grade teacher in the LAUSD school district), I am compelled to speak out.
For almost 30 years, I have worked to minimize trauma for children who have been abused. As the executive director for the Children’s Advocacy Center for Child Abuse Assessment & Treatment, I am faced with these realities every day.
We, and all of our professional partners, work with countless abused children – right here in the Inland Valley. After all these years, it still boggles the mind and heart. I recognize how one can become numb to these “stories”: sexual abuses of children, children who live with constant violence or threat of violence. It is such a “constant” in the world that we’ve almost come to accept it as a sad reality of life. We shake our heads in disbelief or disgust and carry on. Yet these children are being traumatized – surviving like “soldiers in the trenches” with constant and terrifying vigilance – but with no training or defense against the assaults they face.
The ripple effect of abuse is pervasive – abused children run a higher risk of perpetuating abuse on subsequent generations, using special education services, becoming engaged in juvenile and adult criminal activity, suffering from mental illness, substance abuse, domestic violence, unemployment and underemployment and being high users of the healthcare system.
These potential outcomes, however, can be mitigated by intervention and treatment. There are signs and symptoms that a child will experience when in deep distress, and we can learn these signs and act. Start with opening the lines of communication with your own children. There are resources in the community and online for this as well.
Call for help if you suspect a child is being maltreated. Don’t turn away. Your discomfort in reporting is minimal compared to the suffering of these children. I know this. I see (and hear) them every day.
Director, Children’s Advocacy Center
Editor’s note: Other resources include Project Sister Family Services, projectsister.org; StopItNow.org;
ChildHelp.org; and the National Child Abuse Hotline: 1-800-4-A-CHILD (most can call anonymously).