PIKEVILLE – With a mission to eliminate child abuse in Kentucky and Indiana, the voices advocating for children are growing.
The Partnership to Eliminate Child Abuse recently announced a comprehensive educational and awareness campaign, an initiative founded earlier this year by Kentucky’s two children’s hospitals and three medical schools, including Kosair Children’s Hospital, the University of Pikeville-Kentucky College of Osteopathic Medicine (KYCOM), UofL Pediatrics – Forensic Medicine, Kentucky Children’s Hospital and the University of Kentucky – Department of Pediatrics.
Each year in Kentucky between 30 and 40 children die from child abuse and neglect, with another 30 to 60 near fatalities, ranking the state among the worst in the nation. Indiana has had similar challenges in recent years.
“Child abuse is an ugly scar, a dark blemish on the character of humanity. As Kentucky ranks amongst some of the worst states in the nation in rates of child abuse and neglect, Eastern Kentucky contributes its fair share to these statistics and lacks many resources needed to tackle the problem. In my 20-some years of practice, I have seen this monster from close quarters and therefore am a passionate advocate to help eliminate child abuse,” said Seema Sachdeva, M.D., FAAP, vice chair of KYCOM’s Division of Pediatrics.
“We all recognize that our children are our future leaders, future parents, so it is our responsibility to provide healthy nurturing environment for them to grow in. We also recognize that children growing in abuse or neglect suffer lifelong learning and cognitive difficulties as well as emotional disorders. Some are even more unfortunate and suffer severe brain damage, blindness and even death. The physical, emotional and financial toll on society is tremendous. Child abuse also perpetuates a cycle of violence with victims of abuse becoming abusers themselves. It is now imperative that health care workers, teachers, day care workers, and community leaders take a proactive role in recognizing child abuse while heightening public awareness and providing strategies to prevent it,” Sachdeva said.
The key to eliminating child abuse, according to Sachdeva, a Pikeville pediatrician, lies in teaching young minds about the dangers of child abuse and the ways it can be prevented.
“I strongly feel that we need to initiate child abuse prevention education across all the middle and high schools of Kentucky. It is my conviction that exposing our youth to the various facets of this problem will leave an indelible impression on their minds and arming them with strategies to prevent child abuse will be the key to complete elimination of the problem in the years to come. Child abuse is a preventable condition and it is our moral duty to completely eliminate it,” she said.
Since its founding, the Partnership to Eliminate Child Abuse continues to partner with numerous organizations that deal with child abuse issues, as well as partnering with the news media and other groups to provide educational and awareness materials for eliminating child abuse. To promote the initiative, a video, 30-minute TV documentary, tips for eliminating child abuse, as well as public service announcements and advertisements have been created.
“We will be working with the news media and organizations in both states that share a passion for protecting children,” said Stephen Wright, M.D., chair of the Partnership to Eliminate Child Abuse and medical director of Kosair Children’s Hospital. “There is much need for education and awareness. People need to know that child abuse does not in any way discriminate and that anyone is capable of ‘losing it’ when caring for a crying infant. When you consider that our group includes organizations that at times are direct competitors, it is indeed impressive that, in the effort to eliminate child abuse, we are united as one,” Wright said.
News media interested in accessing the toolkit items should contact Steve Menaugh at (502) 599-0422 (cell) or Steve.Menaugh@nortonhealthcare.org. Organizations interested in joining the Partnership to Eliminate Child Abuse should also contact Menaugh.