Prevent Child Abuse Indiana

By: Sandy Runkle, PCAIN Program Director

Typically, Prevent Child Abuse Indiana does not comment about specific cases regarding violence against children. However, sometimes situations arise that are so horrific, they require not just a comment, but rather a call to action. By now, most people in Indianapolis are aware of the killing of an eight year old boy during a domestic disturbance. After reading the story in the newspaper, I continued by reading the comments submitted by readers. Of course there was understandable outrage, as there always is after this type of tragedy. Predictably, many of the comments were directed at the perpetrator, and what type of consequences he should face. Although any type of violent act should have appropriate consequences, our question…one which we often ask, is what could have been done to prevent this act from occurring in the first place? The real issue is, when our children do not have the opportunity to grow up in healthy and safe environments, we all suffer, and potentially put our own futures at risk. These tragedies do not just impact the families and friends of the victim; they impact our society as a whole. We invest in our children, and if we do not protect those investments, we face a far more dangerous type of “recession”. By encouraging families to seek help when they are overwhelmed; by paying attention to children in our neighborhoods; by knowing community resources to be able to assist friends and family; by investing in education, appropriate childcare, early childhood programs…these are just a few of the things we can do for our children and families. We can also educate ourselves about policies that impact children, and contact our Legislators when we are concerned about these policies. In the time it takes to write a “Readers comment” at the end of a story, an e-mail or phone call could be made to a policy maker or community resource. If we mistakenly believe that all problems involving violence toward children exist within the family, then how can we, at the same time, believe that all of the problems can be solved within that same family?

These tragedies occur in all ethnicities and socioeconomic realms. Even if there are some out there who do not believe that statement, and unfortunately there will be, then without argument it can be said these tragedies impact all ethnicities and socioeconomic realms. In other words, we all have a stake in helping children. Despite what people have been led to believe, very little spending has been done on programs for children. In fact, over the last 20 years spending has decreased, and that trend is expected to continue.

I want to conclude by mentioning that one reader’s comment in particular struck me. They commented, and I’m paraphrasing, that because of the environment in which that child was growing, that he probably would one day grow up to be violent. However as research shows, he would have just as likely grown up to be a teacher, or police officer, or bus driver, or perhaps the doctor who finds a cure for cancer. We’ll never know will we, because any future possibilities were ended for him a few nights ago.

(Prevent Child Abuse Indiana is a division of The Villages and is committed to preventing child abuse in all its forms.)

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