You can’t always see the effects of child abuse. They go far beyond bruises and broken bones. Children who are beaten, sexually or emotionally abused or neglected suffer the consequences of adversity long after their outward wounds heal.
Recent research suggests that children who endure “toxic stress”—sensing persistent threat but no protector—are at risk for a host of developmental, intellectual, emotional and behavioral problems as they grow up.
Recently ACF released a report entitled Child Maltreatment 2010. This annual volume summarizes child abuse statistics submitted by states to the National Child Abuse and Neglect Data System (NCANDS) during 2010 and contains a wealth of data important to policymakers, child welfare practitioners, researchers, and concerned citizens.
This report shows an encouraging trend: the rate of child abuse has been decreasing over time. But you can’t read any single report of child abuse and neglect without concluding that there is still much work to do. Our society cannot countenance the destruction of its youngest members. I urge you to read the report and learn the facts.
We must learn to recognize the signs of child abuse, even when they aren’t obvious. We must continue to raise awareness and work toward preventing the mistreatment of our children. And as people responsible for each other and the world we live in, we have an obligation to get involved. Please, do what you can to change the lives of children whose cries are sometimes too soft to be heard.