Child abuse is a subject that often takes a backseat to the headlines over other “pressing” issues. While overall perception of the topic is regularly heartfelt, the matters of a listless economy, declining homeownership, murders, failing schools and other concerns typically speed to the top of most news broadcasts. So, in celebration of Child Abuse Awareness Month, the Baltimore Child Abuse Center (BCAC) hosted its second annual block party on April 10 to raise topic awareness and rescue some of the spotlight away from drying themes.

Scores of city residents who showed up were treated to live music, children’s activities and a plethora of food as well as informative prevention methods against child abuse. Educating residents on the importance of child safety is a vital motive for the BCAC when considering some appalling statistics. Child sex abuse is 1.7 times more common among children than lack of health coverage, 3.75 times more common than disabled children, 19 times more common than mental retardation and over 30 times more common than autism and childhood cancer as reported by the Joni and Friends International Disability Center and the National Cancer Institute.

Children that have been abused also have an increased risk of becoming victims of domestic violence, sexual assault, substance abuse, obesity and truancy among other issues once they reach adulthood. With numbers so staggering, the BCAC’s block party helped to serve as a meaningful refresher.

“It was great,” said the center’s Executive Director Adam Rosenberg. “A number of people came to show some support for the Baltimore Child Abuse Center. I’m really pleased that we were able to offer something back to the community. It’s really a pleasure to be able to serve the community and to bring other families and people into it to see what’s going on.”

Resting along the 2300 block of North Charles St., the BCAC first opened in 1987 as a result of the growing number of children who were being sexually abused and then re-victimized by a lengthy, and at times ceaseless, investigative process. The BCAC then developed a coordinated response that has resulted in timely, child-sensitive investigations of child sexual abuse throughout Baltimore City.

With the aid of the Baltimore City Police, Child Protective Services, the Baltimore City State’s Attorney’s Office and their own interview and treatment staff, the BCAC has been serving as a pillar in the community as one of the leading combatants against acts of child abuse.

“It’s symbolic that our community doesn’t want to stand for anymore child abuse and there’s an organization that’s leading the charge and rallying people and giving people a place to have their voice heard,” Rosenberg said. “It shows some hope, this is a difficult issue to deal with.”

But while the center continues to mirror the voice of neglected children, efforts on getting the word out to uninformed communities serves as its biggest challenge – a challenge that through advertisements and special events such as the center’s recent block party is being met with successful results.

“One thing that the Center for Disease Control has always said is that the number one way to reduce child abuse is through public awareness,” Rosenberg said. “By doing things and block parties you’re able to put into people’s minds that abuse exists and it happens families can do something about it.”

For more information on the Baltimore Child Abuse Center, visit www.BaltimoreChildAbuseCenter.org.

 

Stephen D. Riley

Special to the AFRO