By Michael Goforth, TCPalm
There is a touching new television spot running, sponsored by the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals.
Perhaps you’ve seen it. It is heartbreaking as it shows photos of some dogs and cats that have been abused. The ASPCA spot ends with the words, “I won’t sit by while an animal suffers.” The TV message raises awareness of abuse and, no doubt, pulls enough heart strings to obtain financial support for the good work the ASPCA does in stopping the abuse of helpless animals.
But, what about the children? Where are their pictures?
Last year, there were more than 5,000 cases of child abuse investigated on the Treasure Coast. That’s nearly 13 each day, every week and every month. Some of those children died. During the past three years, more than 300 children have died in Florida because of abuse or neglect.
Where are their pictures?
I’ve covered enough trials where pictures of abused and killed children have been shown to jurors. The impact was breathtaking. The pictures were horrible, provoking anger and a disturbing reality about the inhumanity that exists among so many of us. Those who work for the Department of Children and Families, the pediatric nurses, the compassionate workers for the Children’s Home Society, CASTLE and Hibiscus Children’s Center on the Treasure Coast don’t need photos. They see firsthand the abuse children suffer.
They give us facts and figures. They can’t show us the empty, confused little eyes.
They tell us the problem of child abuse is rampant on the Treasure Coast and grows more severe because of the stress caused on families in this economic recession. As the need for services increases, the funding for programs combating child abuse decreases.
We don’t see the photos of the abused children. We don’t see the cigarette burns on their legs, the black eyes, the twisted, broken arms. We don’t see the bruises and the scars.
We do see pictures of children starving in far off countries. Our hearts go out to them and we donate to charities to assist them. We see the pictures of children wounded in war and we do whatever we can to aid them.
We don’t see the pictures of the child across the street or around the corner. Who do we protect by not showing what an abused child looks like? The abuser? The child?
I think the answer is more disturbing. I think it is to protect ourselves.
They are too difficult for us to see, to disquieting for our sensibilities. What we know mentally, we don’t want to know emotionally. And so, in many ways, the children are invisible, hidden from our hearts. We may not see their injuries, but they are injured just the same. We may not hear their cries and their screams, but they call out nevertheless. We may not know their names, but they are part of our family.
Remember, more than 5,000 cases of child abuse were investigated on the Treasure Coast last year alone. There are probably photographs of each of those children. If we could choose to see the pictures to better understand the tragedy that is occurring in our families and our communities, would we want to look at them?
For most of us, the answer is probably no.
If that is our choice, then we have other choices to make. Will we report suspicions of abuse? Will we donate to those nonprofit organizations that are fighting child abuse? Can we take the same kind of pledge that we might take for abused dogs and cats? Can we say, “I won’t sit by while a child suffers”?
Need immediate assistance or have you witnessed child abuse? (800) 96 - ABUSE(800) 962-2873
St. Lucie County (Main Office)
3525 W. Midway Road,
Fort Pierce, FL, 34981, USA
Tel: (772) 465-6011
CASTLE is much more than an awareness program...Our mission is to STOP child abuse before it even happens! We accomplish this by empowering Parents with the proper tools and education necessary to be successful, loving and nurturing Parents. We're making a difference one family at a time.