Attention required to prevent child abuse

Dear Editor,

Governor Phil Scott signed a proclamation for Child Abuse Prevention Month on April 3. I appreciate the ceremony at the Statehouse and the attention that it draws to the need that every child has, to be loved and safely nurtured. Every child, every day requires at least one adult who provides that love and is committed to her healthy development and well-being. All our children will reach their potential and contribute to their community’s economic viability and stability, if they have safe, stable and nurturing homes.

In all this, there is a role each of us can play. We can be a good family member or a good neighbor to a single parent or parents of young children who would benefit from some time to themselves. Babysitting, or simply taking time to listen to a parent, can make a great difference in the lives of both a parent and his child. Mentoring an elementary age or middle school child can make a world of difference in that child’s present and future. Knowing that someone as nice and as good as you, finds value in spending time with them can help a young person imagine being a successful student and adult. We learn to take chances in life, in good ways, based on how others see us. Children need our time and interest much more than they need material things.

There are many opportunities in Vermont to volunteer to help children and families. Our local Parent Child Centers and Prevent Child Abuse Vermont, are some of the many organizations in need of caring volunteers.

Speak up if you fear a child may be at risk of being abused. Call Prevent Child Abuse Vermont’s Help Line at 1-800-CHILDREN (800-244-5373) to discuss concerns about a child and call the Vermont Department for Children and Families to report a suspicion of child abuse or neglect. Their central number is 1-800-649-5285 and is available 24 hours a day.

As you read this, please remember to think about how you can make a true difference in the life of a child with your time, your talents and your treasure. Vermont will only continue to be as beautiful as it is, to the extent that our children are nurtured and protected today. Child Abuse Prevention Month is a reminder of this important commitment that we share. Learn more by visiting pcavt.org.

Linda E. Johnson, executive director, Prevent Child Abuse Vermont

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