It has been said children are our future.
They are, and it is because they are that it is so important to protect them and their rights as human beings. We should do it at all costs, because there are countless cases where an action might have been ignored and the outcome was fatal.
A recent media report detailed an incident where a 9-year-old Alabama girl died after her grandmother and stepmother allegedly made her run for three hours as punishment for lying about eating a candy bar. A “People” magazine article said the girl had a bladder condition and could not handle the caffeine in a candy bar.
Reading a story like that should cause many to re-evaluate the discipline of children and raise awareness about the vital importance of knowing child-abuse laws.
In Minnesota, one child-abuse law (626.556) states abuse is: “physical, mental injury inflicted on a child other than by accidental means or which can be reasonably explained; any averse or deprivation procedures; sexual abuse; neglect – failure to protect a child from conditions which endanger the child’s health; discipline which is not reasonable.”
Clearly in the above example the discipline used at first sight might have seemed reasonable, but think about the result.
Under the above-stated law, if it is known or there is reason to believe a child is being neglected or physically or sexually abused (or has been in preceding years), this is the basis of a report of abuse. Interestingly, in the findlaw.com listing for the law it explains mandatory reporting and who is required to report, including professionals or delegates who work in social services, hospital administration, psychological treatment, child care and education among others. At the end of the list of people required to report abuse, it read: any other person may report. It should be worded ALL people report ANY form of abuse, known or suspected.
A sad fact is many children are abused and neglected each year. In 2009, 1,770 children died from abuse in the United States, according to a national report from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services on Child Maltreatment.
Minnesota is not exempt, as 4,742 children were reported abused and neglected in 2009, according to data from the Minnesota Department of Human Services (April 2010) as cited by Prevent Child Abuse Minnesota. Of the 4,742 children abused, 44 suffered life-threatening injuries and 21 children died from maltreatment. About 70 percent suffered from neglect, according to the data, with the median age of victims being 6 years old.
It is a scary time, and we all need to be on guard. More importantly, we have to protect our children. Educate them on the importance of communication, and especially and even more critically, tell each child that even if someone tells you “No one will believe you,” someone will.