*Originally published in City Journals
Our greatest role—whether as parents, educators, or elected officials—is to protect our children from harm as we help them grow into adults who live, work, and raise a family. Unfortunately, the child abuse stats in Utah are staggering.
Nationally 1 in 4 girls and 1 in 6 boys will be sexually abused before they turn 18. Utah’s child sexual abuse rate is three times the national average. These numbers demonstrate the stark reality of child abuse, and reinforce why it is so important for the community to spread awareness and take steps to end it. In Utah we often want to bury our head in the sand and assume that it won’t happen to our kids. Child sexual abuse can happen to anyone and it’s important to be educated.
April is Child Abuse Prevention Month, and each year it offers a new opportunity to further educate our county and state about this issue, and offer a call to action. We need to bring attention to the more 3,708 confirmed child victims of abuse in Salt Lake County alone in 2016.
The bottom line is this: all children deserve to grow up in homes where they are safe and nurtured, and free from any form of abuse. The research is staggering about the negative long-term impacts of adverse childhood experiences, also known as “ACEs.”
ACEs include any form of abuse, neglect, domestic abuse toward the mother, substance abuse in the home, and more. A child who experiences ACEs has a higher chance of learning or behavioral issues later in life. If we want our kids to have the best chance of leading productive, innovative, and health and happy lives as adults, we should seek ways to reduce ACEs as much as possible.
Prevent Child Abuse Utah is one organization that seeks to do that by education children, parents, and teachers about the risks and impacts of child abuse, as well as ways to prevent it. Since child abuse can be a particularly debilitating form of adverse childhood experiences, it is important that we take prevention seriously.
I’ve been particularly impressed with Prevent Child Abuse Utah as they’ve gone school to school throughout Utah educating teachers and kids about the issue. Part of this includes helping children understand what child abuse actually is, and to know what to do if they ever experience it. Empowering children with the knowledge they need to protect themselves is vital.
I’ve been so impressed with Prevent Child Abuse Utah that I’ve served on their board for the last couple years, trying to help advance their mission. I would encourage all of our residents to spend 30 minutes taking the free, online parent course. You can find it at pcautah.org.
I fully believe that we can end child abuse in Utah. It starts with education, continues with prevention, and ends with every child growing up in a safe, nurturing environment free from any form of abuse.
Aimee Winder Newton has been serving on the Salt Lake County Council since January 2014. She is the current chair of the council. Her district encompasses Murray, Taylorsville, West Valley City and West Jordan, and a small portion of South Salt Lake and Millcreek... [read more]
|Aimee Winder Newton||
aimee winder newton: County Council district 3