And on the First Day of Child Abuse Prevention Month, This Happened …
April 2, 2013
On Monday, the first day of National Child Abuse Prevention Month, a Woodburn priest pleaded guilty and was sent to prison for six-plus years for molesting a boy.
What Angel Armando Perez did was awful. His is the type of story that often makes the news, sometimes with a worse ending. In this case, the 12-year-old boy ran for help when he awoke to find Perez touching him inappropriately.
Many abusers are people like Perez — people in authority, people who would never be suspected, people who choose victims whom they think would stay silent about the abuse.
However, Angel Armando Perez is not the typical or most common child abuser in the Mid-Valley. That is the parent who neglects his or her children, often because the parent is hooked on drugs or alcohol.
No one starts out by wanting to be a bad parent. But if that’s how a person was raised, that type of parenting might be all he or she knows.
Relief nurseries, such as Family Building Blocks, and other intensive programs break that cycle by teaching at-risk parents more-effective, less-stressful ways of dealing with children.
Other classes, such as the well-known Love and Logic, can help almost any parent become better. There is no shame in seeking parenting knowledge and guidance. Despite what society sometimes conveys, raising children is considerably more complex than simply following one’s parenting “instincts.” An irony of modern life is that most people undergo more training for driving a vehicle than for raising a child.
This month, a tree outside the Marion County Courthouse in downtown Salem is decorated with blue ribbons to signify the 11,599 children who were victims of child abuse or neglect in Oregon in 2011.
Fewer ribbons will be needed in future years if we surround people with the support systems to become better parents.
Fewer ribbons will be needed if we get more parents and potential parents into effective substance-abuse treatment.
Fewer ribbons will be needed if we help families learn how to guard against sexual predators, but without living in fear.
Fewer ribbons will be needed if more churches, youth organizations and other institutions adopt reliable, research-based child protection policies.
And, if each of us takes responsibility to promptly report any suspected child abuse or neglect, there will be more stories of children saved from that cycle.