Take Action to Prevent Child Abuse

Article excerpt

It's always hard to imagine how someone can abuse an innocent child, yet we know child abuse happens every day. The abuse is usually by someone close to the child - a parent or caregiver - someone the child trusts.

Now imagine a community in which the well-being of children is universally valued. A community where healthy, safe and nurturing experiences for children are supported by the actions of every individual. That's the community the agencies receiving funds from the Duck Race and Rotarians strive for every day.

Funds raised by the 2008 Rotary Duck Race, presented by First Tech Credit Union, will go to organizations that include a family relief nursery; an agency that provides volunteer victim advocates; a center that gives emergency shelter and residential program to abused girls; a group working to find families for foster children; and an organization seeking mentors for children who have a parent in prison.

The good news is that the child-abuse statistics are down for the state of Oregon and holding steady for Lane County. In Oregon, 12,043 children were the victims of child abuse in 2006 and that number decreased to 10,716 in 2007. The number of reported victims of child abuse in Lane County rose from 793 in 2006 to 799 in 2007. These figures reflect that there's still much to be done.

According to Greg Parker of the State Department of Human Services, the reason for the increase in reported victims of child abuse in Lane County is most likely the community's lower tolerance for abuse. "Mama Duck" Doris Towery, development director for United Way of Lane County, echoes that feeling. "Through community-wide work and collaborations like the Great Rotary Duck Race and Success By 6, we have made it a priority to focus on our children and on changing the norm," she says. "Our agencies and volunteers have put years of effort into changing the tolerance level and will continue to do so."

Each of us can do our part to end child abuse, perhaps by volunteering at local agencies, donating funds or buying a Duck Race ticket. Most importantly, we can help by recognizing child abuse and stepping forward to report it. …