May 17, 2012

Children: A Better Investment

Doyle,-Rondi-NEW-colorBy Rondi Doyle
Director of Community Relations
Child Abuse Council

Imagine the upcoming summer months seen through a child’s eyes. It’s a time filled with anticipation and excitement of vacations, barbecues, picnics, time away from school. But sadly, this isn’t the reality for some children in our community. Recent highly publicized cases of child abuse are very disturbing. Child abuse and neglect are unacceptable at any time of year, but the stark contrast of sunny summer days is a grim reminder that the lives and futures of some children are threatened.

Each year 1,300 to 1,800 children are identified as victims of child abuse and neglect in the local area. But, the numbers aren’t the whole story. Behind each number is a child who needs help. Research tells us that child victims grow up with a greater likelihood of having trouble in school, engaging in high-risk behaviors such as substance abuse and early sexual activity, and may suffer from depression and low self-esteem. Child abuse victims are more likely to become involved with the criminal justice system and are at risk of perpetuating the cycle of violence in their interpersonal relationships. For some children, death is the ultimate outcome.

The issues are daunting, and the stakes are high, but thirty-five years of experience at the Child Abuse Council tell us that the lives of children can literally be saved by prevention and early response. High quality services can transform home environments or, when necessary, can ensure safe and nurturing alternatives. The choices are clear…we can either invest in protecting children right now, or we can wait and deal with their problems later at a much higher cost. The Child Abuse Council is committed to the first choice, and that resonates with individuals who fully understand the stakes.

You may ask “What can I do to help?” There are a number of options.

1) Support the parents you know…not necessarily financially, but emotionally. Parenting is a tough and sometimes lonely job.
2) Report child abuse or neglect if you have reason to believe it’s happening. In Illinois, call 1-800-25-ABUSE, in Iowa, call
1-800-362-2178, or call your local police department.
3) If problems exist, encourage families to get help. The community has numerous child and family services that can assist.
4) Support organizations that work to prevent and respond to child abuse and family violence. Volunteer or make a donation. Because of the economy many organizations are seeing decreases in state and local support at the very time that families need increased help.
5) Hug your own child or grandchild and be thankful that he/she is safe, secure and loved.

Child abuse and neglect can be prevented…and each of us can make an investment in the future of the children we know and those we don’t.

For more information about the Child Abuse Council’s prevention, education and treatment programs, visit us at