In February, news headlines featured the tragic story of a 9-year-old girl who died from dehydration after being forced to run for three hours as a punishment. Her crime? Lying about eating a candy bar. This story parallels another headline-making case from April 2010, in which 4-year-old Dominick Calhoun was fatally beaten in Linden, Michigan for accidentally wetting his pants.
Not only is child maltreatment a form of violence in itself, it also contributes to several negative outcomes among victims, such as substance abuse, mental illnesses, and early pregnancy. Additionally, children who have been physically abused are more likely to perpetrate aggressive behavior and violence later in their lives.
This problem is especially prominent in Genesee County. After Wayne County, Genesee has the next highest amount of confirmed child abuse cases in the state.
Five ways to prevent child maltreatment in your community:
- Reach out and provide support to your neighbors. Start a babysitting co-op or organize neighborhood gatherings
- Become familiar with signs of maltreatment and report suspected cases to your local police department
- Take a couple hours a month to volunteer at a local child abuse prevention program
- Encourage schools, community organizations, and libraries to produce a directory of local resources
- The most influential way you can help is to support efforts that strengthen communities by creating safe, stable, and nurturing environments. Attend city council or school board meetings and let them know how parks, strong schools, and supportive services can help strengthen families.
April is National Child Abuse Prevention Month. Make a commitment to promoting the social and emotional wellbeing of children in your community. As the proverb goes, “It takes a village to raise a child.” Be sure to do your part.