Letters to the Editor

Help us put an end to child abuse

Before you finish reading this article another child in the United States will suffer the devastating effects of abuse or neglect. It’s a sobering statistic, isn’t it?

Though it would be easier to assume these tragedies happen “over there,” the harsh truth is that they occur in our neighborhood. After more than 23 years of working in child welfare, I understand the consequences of child abuse all too well.

More often than not, the tragic cycle of abuse victimizes generation after generation. While most of us understand the dangers of physically punishing a small child or of releasing frustration by shaking a crying baby, others may not. They don’t want to hurt their children, they just don’t know how to stop the cycle that dominated their own childhoods.

The Children’s Home Society of Florida’s Family Preservation Intervention Program teaches families how to appropriately handle their stress, frustrations and anger before it spirals into the cycle of abuse. We encourage families with children of any age — even teenagers — to work together to overcome challenges and strengthen family bonds.

Serving more than 220 families each year, we’re honored to provide the Family Preservation Intervention Program to families throughout Miami. But we can’t do it alone.

Florida’s Child Abuse Hotline receives almost 200,000 calls each year. Each call represents a child, a possible victim.

I encourage you to join me in extending a helping hand to the children and families in our community. If you know a friend or neighbor who is feeling overwhelmed, offer your shoulder to lean on or an ear to listen. If speaking with our team could help, refer them to our intervention program.

And, most important, if you ever suspect child abuse or neglect, call 1-800-96-ABUSE. You could save a life.

Maggie Dante, executive director, Children’s Home Society of Florida, Miami