We Alaskans greet spring with such enthusiasm. We comment to each other – even to strangers – about how the snow is melting and the days are getting longer. The news that we’re gaining five minutes and more of sunlight a day is met with happy smiles.
April will be here soon, and so it is also time to reflect on some not so happy news.
April is National Child Abuse Prevention Month and deserves our attention. I was shocked to learn there were 2,226 confirmed cases of child abuse and neglect in Alaska in 2015, and 44% of the victims were 4-years-old or younger. According to the Alaska Children’s Trust (ACT), children under age 4 are at the greatest risk of severe injury and death from abuse. In most cases, the abuser is known by the child.
ACT goes on to say that abuse and neglect occur most often in families experiencing high levels of stress, such as poverty, family deaths, or chronic illness. Families without nearby friends, relatives, or social support are the most at risk. You can read their full report here.
Alaska has one of the highest rates of child abuse in the country, but we can turn this around. One person at a time reaching out to support another. Alaskans are known to be resilient, resourceful, community-minded people who pride themselves on pulling together for the good of the whole. For a start, participate in a Go Blue Day rally in your community!
Do you know a parent who may be feeling at the end of his rope and unable to cope? Are you the parent or caregiver of a young child who is driving you crazy? You’re not alone.
This spring, let’s pledge to each other to do all we can to stop child abuse NOW.