Child Abuse Awareness Prevention Month
They are infants, toddlers, and children, the majority below 12 years of age.
Fifth Circuit Guardian Ad Litem Program Recognizes Child Abuse Awareness Prevention Month
They are daughters and sons, grandchildren, nieces, and nephews. They are our neighbor’s children and our children’s classmates. More than 2,200 live within the 5th Judicial Circuit, which includes Marion, Lake, Sumter, Citrus, and Hernando Counties, yet most of us are unaware of their plight.
In April, we pause to recognize National Child Abuse Awareness Prevention Month. Banners will be hung, blue ribbons will be worn, and pinwheels strategically placed in highly visible areas. Local governments will make proclamations of support for the work being done on behalf of these children, and local media outlets will cover the story. If we are lucky, we will experience a momentary surge of inquiries from people who ask, “What can I do? How may I help.” The problem is that there are another 11 months in the year, and national statistics show a child abuse report is made every ten seconds, with nearly fifty percent of these reports resulting in an investigation.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, adverse childhood experiences impact one’s long-term health. For example, childhood traumas, regular beatings, belittling or witnessing domestic violence physically harm the body and brain for a lifetime. Individuals exposed to six or more adverse childhood experiences have an average life expectancy two decades shorter than those who reported none. In addition, physical disease, mental health, addiction disorders, and quality of life issues are all linked to the presence of early childhood trauma.
We are deeply grateful for the nearly 418 Guardian ad Litem volunteers in the Fifth Judicial Circuit, who represent about 78 percent of the children we serve, and our many donors and community partners. Unfortunately, there are currently 347 abused and neglected children whose cases are appointed to the Guardian ad Litem Program who are without a Guardian ad Litem volunteer. So how can you help? You can take action. Become a Guardian ad Litem volunteer and serve as a community and courtroom child advocate. Join Voices for Children of North Central Florida, Inc. to participate in fundraising activities that provide for the essential needs of children served by the Guardian ad Litem Program. Volunteer for special projects or donate services.
Become familiar with the face of child abuse. Make a difference in the life of a child and your community. Join us by calling 352-812-6971 or visiting www.guardiandlitem.org.