The statistics about child abuse in our area are shocking. The stories of the pain and suffering endured by youngsters are horrifying. If anything good can come from the darkness of such agony, it is the light of public awareness, along with the coordinated efforts of law enforcement agencies and organizations like the Southeast Missouri Network Against Sexual Violence.
In the nine years the NASV has been in existence, it has seen the number of reported cases grow at a frightening pace. Authorities wonder if the increase is due to more violence or better reporting.
In either case, the fact is that the ability of official agencies to cope with child abuse has improved significantly in the past decade. And as more and more parents, teachers, relatives, social workers and police officers learn what to do when child abuse occurs, the better the chances that these young victims can be helped.
Being observant sounds like a much too simple way to fight child abuse. But it's the best way. Recognizing the signs of abuse and reporting them to the proper authorities can do more than save a child's life. It can save a child's desire to live.