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Oped: Our children are Pa.'s greatest blessing
When you gather with family and friends this holiday season, what will top your list of blessings? Good health? A job promotion? That fabulous new car in the driveway that you’ve always wanted?
Or will it be something less material and more soulful?
Like the sound of your child’s laughter. Or the burst of color as you walk together through a swirl of falling leaves. Or the powerful bond you feel with that little person as you share a bedtime story.
Our lives and work are measured so often now in Facebook likes and Twitter retweets, in Instagram followers, or the latest Google analytics. We can measure almost everything we do by virtue of algorithms. But how do we calculate the value of time spent nurturing our children and grandchildren? Or the impact, large and small, that kids have on society’s emotional and physical well-being?
My job requires me to delve into the darker sides of human behavior and measure their impact on children. I’m forced to explore the horrific reality of children’s deaths and injuries at the hands of perpetrators, some of whom are their parents, caregivers, and so-called “loved ones.” Those numbers are recorded in an annual state report.
The statistical analysis of child abuse’s toll exposes it as a public health epidemic. But it’s so much more than that. Death by child abuse robs us each year of the equivalent of a classroom of children in Pennsylvania. We lose their laughter, their innocence, their creativity, their essence. They are gone forever as if whispers on the wind.
It doesn’t have to be this way.
Child abuse is preventable.
Through strong parenting programs, family-support activities, community-awareness efforts, and educating professionals and community members how to recognize and report child abuse, we can create a safer world for our children. Each one of us has a role to play in protecting kids from abuse and neglect.
I urge you during this festive and giving time of year to become more soulful about Pennsylvania’s children and the incalculable worth they bring to you and our world. They are our richest, dearest blessing. Become actively involved in Pennsylvania Family Support Alliance’s work of protecting kids by hosting one of our Front Porch Project community workshops. Take a parenting class at a PFSA-affiliated agency in your region. Or, enroll you and your coworkers and employees in our free, on-site, face-to-face training session in how to recognize and report child abuse. You can learn more at our website www.pa-fsa.org.
Remember, every kid needs a champion. Let us count you as a blessing to Pa.'s kids this holiday season.
— Angela Liddle is president and CEO of the Pennsylvania Family Support Alliance.