Monday, February 19 , 2018, 12:07 am | Fair 51º

 
 
 
 

Diane Dimond: Where’s the Public Campaign for Victims of Child Abuse?

Like the movement for breast cancer. there needs to be a groundswell of awareness about the plight of battered children

Those who fight to stop child abuse need to get some pizazz in their campaign. They need a marketing strategy. They’ve got no slogan or badge or colored ribbon for supporters to display to acknowledge their solidarity in trying to wipe out this criminal scourge.

As everyone knows, the crippling psychological effects of childhood abuse and neglect often last a lifetime. And if the abuse is of a sexual nature, a victim can grow up to victimize others in a similar fashion. It’s an awful cycle.

Those on the front line of this fight — abuse survivors, law enforcement’s first responders, social workers, prosecutors and medical experts — need an enthusiastic movement like the one launched by the family of the late Susan G. Komen, who died of breast cancer in 1980.

The Komen family spread the word about the fight against breast cancer so far and wide that today we see that ubiquitous pink ribbon for breast cancer everywhere! Big, burly football players and Major League Baseball players are wearing pink gear to remember loved ones who succumbed to the disease.

Gee, I remember when speaking about a woman’s breast in public was rare. But today, this is a stylish cause. The fight against child abuse? Not so much.

Every year, there are pink-swathed Komen-sponsored 5K runs “For the Cure” in communities across the nation that raise millions of dollars for research and education. Yoplait Yogurt’s “Save Lids to Save Lives” program donates up to $2 million a year. Walgreens Pharmacy contributes an annual $1 million to Komen’s Treatment Assistance Fund. Other corporate sponsors include American Airlines, Caterpillar Tractor, the Ladies Professional Golf Association and Microsoft. Every mention is adorned with that dainty little pink ribbon.

What color do you associate with child abuse? That’s right — no color. No slogan, no major celebrity-hosted events to raise money to fight the homegrown epidemic that devours so many of our children.

Not to diminish a single breast cancer victim in any way, but let’s compare the at-risk numbers. This year will see about 230,000 new invasive breast cancer cases, according to the American Cancer Society’s latest report. Tragically, 39,500 women and 450 men are expected to die this year of the disease.

Compare that with the more than 3 million child abuse and neglect cases expected to be reported during the same period. And that only tells part of the story because, according to ChildHelp.org, a group that keeps track of these devastating numbers, “(Each) report can include multiple children.” For example, “In 2009, approximately 3.3 million child abuse reports and allegations were made involving an estimated 6 million children.” The organization’s saddest statistic: More than five children die of abuse every single day.

The American Academy of Child & Adolescent Psychiatry puts the annual number of reported child sex abuse cases at 80,000 but is quick to add, “The number of unreported instances is far greater because the children are afraid to tell anyone what has happened.”

Again, this is not to suggest the attention given one cause over another is misplaced, but when as many as 6 million children are abused every year in this country, at least 80,000 of them sexually, perhaps a bit of reshuffling of priorities is in order?

At the very least, we need to start openly talking about the problem of these battered children and solutions to solve their plight. That’s how the Komen juggernaut got started. One family convinced another, and then another and another that it was vital to find a cure for breast cancer. The message spread, awareness was raised, and so were tens of millions of dollars for victim assistance and research.

So, where’s the public campaign for our most at-risk children? Why are people and corporations so reticent to embrace a problem that so profoundly affects millions of children — and in turn has such a profound impact on our society? The answer is simple: It is a decidedly ugly and dreadfully intimate problem to discuss.

We need to make abusing children not only criminal but completely socially unacceptable.

Decades of research shows that abused and neglected kids are more susceptible to drug and alcohol addiction, and they often have criminal records and poor overall health. They account for many of the unwanted teen pregnancies. When will we get wise to the fact that we all, ultimately, pay tomorrow for what we ignore today?

People seemed stunned at the unique demonstration of concern for kid victims recently when a stadium full of more than 100,000 football fans at Penn State University, many of them spontaneously wearing the color blue, fell silent for a few moments of reflection over the plight of sexually abused kids.

That shouldn’t be a rare event.

Let’s start a movement now to make it fashionable to wear those Penn State-inspired blue ribbons (next to the pink ones, if you wish) and pause at each and every public gathering — from City Council and Kiwanis Club meetings to sporting and theater events — to collectively remember the silent torment these children live in.

Let’s see some caring corporations start donating to this cause!

And let’s make a pledge to someday do as much for them as has been done for those suffering from breast cancer.

Diane Dimond is the author of Cirque Du Salahi: Be Careful Who You Trust. Click here for more information. She can be contacted at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address).

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