While random acts of violent crime are a major problem in this country, there are millions of young people in America who face an even more devastating reality. They are not victimized on the street or in the classroom, but in their own homes. They are not hurt by strangers, but by those whom they often love and trust. They are the victims of child abuse.
Child abuse is a tragedy that comes in a variety of forms: physical and emotional pain, sexual abuse and neglect. According to the US Department of Health and Human Services, nearly six million children annually are reported as being abused or neglected and over one thousand seven hundred children die as a result of abuse or neglect.
Child abuse is found in all cultural, religious, ethnic and socio-economic groups. Children who are abused or who live in homes where a parent or guardian is battered carry these lessons of violence into adulthood. Sadly, a great number of child victims grow into adults who assault both strangers and loved ones; creating a tragic self-perpetuating cycle of violence.
This year, I have partnered with book author and recording artist Norwood Young to author Assembly Concurrent Resolution (ACR) 24, declaring April 2011 as Child Abuse Prevention Month in California. ACR 24 is an important step to raise awareness of the efforts made throughout California to prevent child abuse and as a way to hopefully break the often deadly cycle between child abuse and domestic violence.
Any victim of child abuse or anyone who knows or suspects child abuse is taking place should report their concerns to law enforcement, a child protection agency, healthcare provider, teacher, athletic coach, counselor or any trusted adult. All children have the reasonable expectation to enjoy safe and healthy lives. Adults, particularly parents or legal guardians, have the legal responsibility to protect children from all forms of physical, sexual or emotional abuse. These individuals should reach out to their local school, house of worship, community center or my office directly for advice and to identify resources available to help prevent and stop child abuse.
There is no excuse for child abuse. We have the power within ourselves to break the cycle of abuse and give children a future free from abuse and neglect. We have the ability to make preventing child abuse a priority in our community not just in April, but throughout the year. Together, we can take a stand against child abuse and make a safer community for all our children.
Assemblymember Isadore Hall, III represents the 52nd District in Los Angeles County, is Chair of the Assembly Governmental Organization Committee and serves on the Assembly Select Committee on Domestic Violence.
The public is welcome to join Assemblymember Hall, Mr. Norwood Young, Members of the Compton City Council and child abuse prevention advocates at a press conference supporting Child Abuse Prevention Month. The press conference will take place on Friday, April 1, 2011 at 12:00 PM at Compton City Hall, located at 205 S. Willowbrook Avenue, Compton, CA 90220. For more information please visit www.assembly.ca.gov/hall or call 310-223-1201.