April is National Child Abuse Prevention Month – a time to pause and remember the effects that child abuse has on our most precious citizens, to recognize the impact it has on all of us, and to commit to doing our part to eliminate it.

According to state child protective services, more than 17,000 Kentucky children were victims of abuse or neglect in 2011. But, we know that that number is actually higher. Not all incidences of abuse or neglect get reported so the authorities can investigate.

Child abuse and neglect is a tragedy. It is unacceptable that thousands of children in our state suffer from physical and/or emotional harm at the hands of someone they depend on to care for them. It not only causes physical and emotional harm, but psychological and behavioral problems that can last a lifetime. And that has a profound ripple effect on our communities – socially and economically. Responding to and prosecuting maltreatment, and providing support and treatment for those victimized costs our nation $103 billion dollars each year.

There are simple things we all can do to help eliminate child abuse.

  1. Help make your community more supportive of families, as families are less likely to experience child abuse or neglect when living in nurturing communities. Individual actions range from getting to know your neighbors and volunteering at schools, to creating opportunities for families to interact in fun and safe ways. Find more ideas here.
  2. Know the warning signs and symptoms of child abuse and neglect so you can help keep children safe by notifying the authorities when you have reason to suspect child maltreatment.
  3. Call in suspicions of child abuse and neglect to the toll free state hotline at 1-877-KYSAFE1 (1-877-597-2331). If you think a child is in imminent danger call your local law enforcement. A short phone call, in which you can remain anonymous, may save a child’s life.
  4. Participate in some of the numerous Child Abuse Prevention Month activities taking place across Kentucky to increase community awareness and resolve to end child abuse. You can find out what is happening in your community here. Don’t see anything listed for your community? Contact Prevent Child Abuse Kentucky for help in creating a community event.

If you live in or near Jefferson County, please join Kentucky Youth Advocates at the Child Abuse Prevention Month rally on April 5th at 10:00 AM at Louisville Slugger Field. Additional Louisville activities are listed by Family & Children’s Place.

Dan Fox, President of Family & Children’s Place speaks to the upcoming event’s significance. “Nationally, April is used to educate, advocate and inspire action among our respective communities. The Child Abuse Prevention Month rally on April 5th will emphasize the collective responsibility we all have for the children in our neighborhoods, and that abuse is preventable,” Fox said. “Those who participate in the event will witness a variety of agencies and advocates from throughout the region coming together, speaking in one voice.  What a fantastic way to kick off Child Abuse Prevention Month!”