Sometimes the toughest issues to deal with are the ones that need the most attention.
Child abuse and neglect are blind and complex issues. They infiltrate every corner of society without regard to race, gender or socio-economic status. They are also difficult and uncomfortable topics for many to discuss openly, as the subject – the destruction of innocence – is a dark and heavy topic for polite conversation.
However, there is no better time than the present to continue to respond to the need for these conversations, as prevention now brings hope for a better future for all of us.
April is National Child Abuse Prevention Month, and for the past 40 years, the Children’s Trust Fund of Michigan has been the only statewide agency solely dedicated to ending cycles of abuse. and child neglect by supporting local councils in all 83 counties that strengthen families through education, outreach and programming.
I have been fortunate to dedicate a significant portion of my time to local non-profit organizations that strive to help children and families. Children’s Trust Fund has always held a special and personal place in my heart because of the work it does to bring hope and happiness throughout Michigan. So when the Governor asked me to serve on the COTF Board of Directors in March 2020, I jumped at the chance to play a role in delivering positive outcomes not just for individuals and households, but also for society as a whole.
Unfortunately, the negative ramifications of abuse and neglect extend far beyond the boundaries of childhood. Numerous studies have shown that the repercussions of negative childhood experiences extend into adulthood, creating even more societal ills such as repetitive cycles of violence, substance abuse, and mental and psychological consequences.
This is why the importance of early, frequent and tireless prevention efforts cannot be underestimated – and it also underscores why prevention is an issue in which we all have a shared interest.
But what can we do as individuals? The first step is simply awareness. COTF has a valued partner this year at Michigan’s Blue Cross Blue Shield to help spread the message that prevention matters. Various events are taking place in local communities across the state to mark Child Abuse Awareness Month, and we hope you take note.
The second step is to get involved and play an active role. One way to get involved is to volunteer or donate to programs and services in your community. Another is to participate in COTF’s 20th Annual Pam Posthumus Signature Auction event on May 17. The annual gathering is being held virtually as well as in person this year at the Breslin Student Events Center in East Lansing.
The more we talk about and implement the prevention of child abuse and neglect, the less power the issue has as an uncomfortable and troublesome subject. It is time to open the lines of communication and have a dialogue of empathy, understanding and action.
Every voice counts.
About the Author: Amy Tattrie Loepp is Chair of the Board of Directors of the Children’s Trust Fund.