Too many lives lost: Help prevent abuse before another child dies

Sixty-six. That’s the number of children cited in Indiana’s recent child fatality report who died from abuse and neglect in a one-year period.

That’s 66 children who are no longer with us. That’s 66 Hoosier children too many.

The report details how some of these children died. Many at the hands of their own parents. Many who suffered heartbreaking and prolonged injuries and unspeakable pain. And many, 50 percent, were under one year of age.

These were little ones, dependent solely on those around them to care for them, and keep them safe. But instead their cries and needs were met with abuse or neglect.

Child abuse and neglect is not singular to one community — it’s in every community. It’s in every corner of our state, from the smallest burgs to the biggest metropolitan areas of Indiana.

It crosses racial categories, geographies, nationalities, political-party affiliations and economic status.

And it’s something we can prevent.

Every one of us can do something to combat abuse and neglect before it happens — before another child becomes a number in Indiana’s next child-fatality report.

As a board member with the Kids First Trust Fund, I challenge every reader to do something in 2016 to help protect a child from abuse or neglect.

If you see something, say something. Abuse thrives off of silence — children need your voice. If you see or suspect a child is at risk of abuse or neglect, call 800-800-5556. You could save a life, and possibly restore a family that is in crisis.

You can also get involved. Almost all abuse and neglect cases reveal stressors that put families in crisis — such as loss of a job, low income, a single parent feeling overwhelmed or social isolation.

Be a listening ear for a neighbor, friend or relative. Know your community resources, such as employment services, food banks, child-care programs, and refer parents in need to those sources. You can also volunteer with a child-abuse prevention organization or become a foster parent.

You also can invest in child-abuse prevention.

Purchasing a Kids First license plate is a simple, yet very worthwhile way to promote child-abuse prevention everywhere you drive, and 100 percent of all license-plate sales goes to support child-abuse and neglect prevention programs throughout Indiana. You can also make a donation at to the Kids First Trust Fund at kidsfirst.in.gov or call 317-232-0465.

Whatever you do, do something in 2016. You have sixty-six reasons to get started.

Together, we can prevent child abuse and neglect.

How to help

  • Call (800) 800-5556 if you see or suspect a child is at risk of abuse or neglect.
  • Buy a Kids First license plate. License-plate sales go to support child-abuse and neglect prevention programs throughout Indiana.
  • Donate to the Kids First Trust Fund: kidsfirst.in.gov or call 317-232-0465.

Candes Shelton is chairwoman of the Kids First Trust Fund, which promotes the health of children by funding programs that prevent child abuse and neglect. Send comments to dr-editorial@greenfieldreporter.com.