What can you do to prevent child abuse and deal with its aftermath?
To the Editor:
If you see a blue pinwheel dotting the landscape in April, we hope you will pause and think about what it represents--National Child Abuse Prevention Month. We then hope you will ask yourself: what can I do to prevent child abuse and deal with its aftermath? We are fortunate in Fairfax County to have multidisciplinary teams of law enforcement, child protective services (which averages 2,500 cases per year), prosecutors and other professionals who work together to investigate child abuse and related issues.
We are fortunate to have the SafeSpot Children’s Advocacy Center of Fairfax County where forensic interviews can happen in a coordinated fashion in a child-friendly environment that does not re-traumatize the child. It’s also a place where trauma-informed therapy is provided so the child can hopefully go on to lead a happy, healthy life. We are not so fortunate, however, because child abuse affects every socio-economic group, even in our affluent area. We have scores of children and families who need help. You can do your part by being vigilant with your own family and acquaintances, or to a child or a family that may need help. You can help raise funds for SafeSpot so it can expand its hours and services. We’ve seen the difference for children and families when they have resources to deal with the horror they’ve encountered. It takes time and loving support but it is possible.
So in April, remember pinwheels only turn if we use our collective breath. Think about children under three who don’t have words to express their pain or ask for help. Think about the lives that are lost if therapy isn’t provided. Then say thanks to the teams who work tirelessly and cooperatively to support children and families, and think about how you can help. More information on how to get involved is available from www.safespotfairfax.org.
Michele Thames, executive director
SafeSpot Children’s Advocacy Center of Fairfax County