BY GUY SEDERSKI – GUEST COLUMNIST
April brings us new life! This is what Child Abuse Prevention Month is all about. We have a special opportunity to consider a path to a prosperous future for Washington County, by giving all children the experiences they need to become tomorrow’s leaders. For the past 15 years, our Washington County Citizens Review Panel has been engaged in understanding what it means to create a community that enables our children to safely develop — socially, emotionally and cognitively.
Today’s children are Minnesota’s future leaders, parents and workers. Our state’s future prosperity depends on their healthy development and growth. With the support of engaged communities and nurturing families, all of Minnesota’s children can thrive and have the opportunity to grow into caring, contributing and healthy adults. Preventing child abuse and neglect will take all of our efforts to ensure our children have the foundation to become tomorrow’s leaders.
April’s observance of Child Abuse Prevention Month reminds us all of our collective responsibility to make positive choices that will impact the safety and well-being of our children. Beyond the choices we make every day to assure our own children and the children we know receive nurturing, loving experiences every day, we can make choices that will affect change at the governmental and community level on the systems that support healthy community and family development. If we work together to change the way society values and supports the well-being of children and families, and if we can change the cultural attitude to ensure that healthy, safe and nurturing experiences are supported by the actions of every individual and every community, then “preventing child abuse” no longer describes simply the “cause” we each support; but rather, it begins to describe the “effect” of all that we do together.
In 2012, Washington County Community Services received more than 4,500 calls through Child Protection Intake and completed assessments on more than 700 allegations that met the legal definition of child maltreatment in state law.
It is up to each of us — not someone else — to make a difference in the life of a child. We must hold policy-makers, elected officials and ourselves accountable for being informed, being involved and being dedicated to preventing child abuse before any pain is inflicted on another child. And while April is recognized nationally as Child Abuse Prevention Month, every day should be about preventing child abuse. While no one person can do everything, everyone can do something. Together, we can advocate for policies and programs which support healthy families and children. Together, we can live in a prosperous society that understand and genuinely values the wellbeing of children. Together we can prevent child abuse.
If you know of or suspect that maltreatment of a child has occurred, please call the Washington County Child Protection Intake telephone line at 651-430-6457, or go to co.washington.mn.us under “How Do I … Report Abuse.”
Remember, by reporting child maltreatment, you can prevent child abuse.
Guy Sederski is chair of the Washington County Citizens Review Panel.