There’s a lot of talk these days about what sets Kentucky apart. What is our defining characteristic, our most important resource?
I have an easy answer for that: our children. They are our most precious resource by far. They will determine our Commonwealth’s future.
And it is critical that we protect them when they are put in harm’s way.
To encourage Kentuckians to show support for our most vulnerable citizens, the Governor has declared April as Child Abuse Prevention Month.
We must do everything we can to transform our communities into places that care about and actively support families and children.
Child abuse and neglect transcend all socioeconomic and racial lines – there is no community, no profession, no school and no place of worship that is immune to child abuse and neglect.
The majority of cases stem from situations associated with substance abuse, mental health issues or domestic violence.
With the support of communities and families, all of Kentucky’s children can thrive and have the opportunity to grow into caring, contributing and healthy adults.
Working in partnership with public and private organizations such as social services, schools, childcare centers, religious organizations, law enforcement and businesses is a particularly effective strategy.
A national study by the Pew Research Institute estimated that the cost of child abuse and neglect was $104 billion dollars in 2008. This figure represents the costs of treatment directly associated with child abuse and neglect, as well as the costs of incarceration, intervention and loss of work time.
However, the data shows that a greater focus on prevention — providing services on the front end – will decrease both the short and long-term costs to society.
My family has been supportive of child abuse prevention efforts dating back to my husband’s service as attorney general and a state legislator, as well as his service on the Prevent Child Abuse Kentucky Board of Directors. This month, my husband has signed a proclamation in honor of Child Abuse Prevention Month.
Fostering healthy, nurturing environments for children is one of the best investments Kentucky can make.
I encourage you to get involved in combating child abuse. One way to show your support is by attending an event in your area. A statewide community calendar is available at http://www.pcaky.org/calendar.php or check with your regional organization.
For additional information about child abuse, check out http://chfs.ky.gov/dcbs/dpp/childsafety.htm.
Let’s protect Kentucky’s most important asset. Our children deserve it.