ARZU KAYA – Child abuse must be taken seriously

Child abuse must be taken seriously In New Jersey, a young mother left two of her children to play on a dead-end street while checking up on them from time to time from her kitchen window. A neighbor saw young children without parental supervision, called the police and the Division of Child Protection and Permanency took the children from the family on accusations of “neglect.”A mother went out on a rainy, cold day with her infant in Brooklyn, NY. The baby fell asleep in the car. The mother was going to return a blouse and get back into the car. Thus, she didn’t want to wake up her baby. She parked in front of the store and while she was watching the car and waiting in line, again, someone reported an unattended baby in the car and now the mother is in big trouble.In Queens, a young woman’s newborn baby was crying loudly and often at night, and one morning she found a police officer in front of her door, investigating why the baby was crying so hard every night and trying to find out if there was any type of abuse!All those stories are about Turkish mothers who are newcomers to the US. There have been several similar incidents. When those mothers figure out that they have been reported as neglectful parents, they get very upset and condemn society as cynical and ill-intentioned. However, it’s obvious where their neighbors or whoever reports these incidents are coming from!As April is National Child Abuse Prevention Month in the US, and in attempts to raise awareness we have attended many social events and unfortunately through them heard many heartbreaking stories about abused children.National statistics from the Childhelp Center are unbelievable: Every 10 seconds there is a report of child abuse in the US. More than five children are reported to die every day as a result of child abuse and neglect. Also, it is estimated that the causes of between 50 and 60 percent of child-abuse deaths are not accurately recorded on death certificates. This means that the daily death toll is definitely more than five.Over 15 million children witness violence and abuse each year in their own homes. More than 90 percent of young sexual abuse victims know their perpetrator in some way.The effects of abuse stay with those kids throughout their lives: Many suffer from mental illnesses or have addiction problems. Also, people who experience child abuse or neglect are nine times more likely to become involved in criminal activity. Fourteen percent of all men in prison and 36 percent of women in prison were abused as kids. Unfortunately, later, about 30 percent of abused and neglected children abuse their own children. Child abuse happens among people of any ethnic and cultural background, within all religions and with people of all levels of education and at every socioeconomic level.Experts estimate the minimum annual cost of child abuse at $124 billion, which goes to providing healthcare to treat substance abuse, mental and physical illnesses or disabilities, and other health-related issues. The costs include child welfare and protection, law enforcement, court system allocations to handle criminal cases, special education, unemployment and underemployment services and benefits.There is a Childhelp National Child Abuse Hotline open 247, with professional crisis counselors who can provide information and referrals to emergency, social and support services. In each state of the US, there are therapists who specialize in treating child abuse in almost every community. Also, there are local child-protective services. In schools, education about child abuse starts as early as pre-K and continues as the children grow. In elementary schools, every year a police officer and a representative of a local child-protective service visit the school to talk about safety, covering all issues related to abuse. Health teachers also talk about child abuse during the school year.Unfortunately, Turkey was been shaken by widely reported incidents of child abuse and violence against children in April. Holding a press conference last Wednesday on these issues, Family and Social Policy Minister AyIenur Islam said the ministry has already started to offer conferences and educational programs for families on ways to protect their children from abusers. She also said that there is a draft law in the works that will bring heavier penalties for child abuse and sex crimes. These are important steps, but they aren’t enough. There should be education for children, parents, educators, health professionals, religious leaders and police officers about these filthy acts.More importantly, we should acknowledge that these incidents show us that there is a serious moral collapse in Turkey, and that as a society we should start thinking sincerely about what lies beneath these inhuman acts!

SOURCE: Todays Zaman

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