The world is a dangerous place, not because of those who do evil,
but because of those who look on and do nothing.

~~~ Albert Einstein



Saturday, April 12, 2008

April

I'm going to be frank about something, and all I ask of you is that you hear (or read) the entire little rant of mine through before making any assumptions about it.

Up until recently I was a huge supporter of 'child abuse awareness month'. And then I started thinking what a waste it really it. An entire month to promote the fight against child abuse? A month of having proactive, safe child, anti abuse messages tossed around endlessly. TV commercials, nightly updates on the current 'anti child abuse' activities going around, those little reminder flags that child protective service agencies feel compelled to put out on lawns. Even the marathons, the fund raisers... all of- wasteful. A slight distraction to our normal everyday life, which does nothing to change anything at all.

You see, there really is a series of problems with this whole 'child abuse awareness month' idea.

One month out of twelve, that's what we dedicate to raising awareness and preventing child abuse. 30 days out of 365 to remind communities of the children effected by abuse- of the children who died because of abuse, the children left beaten, battered, and their spirits broken. We give 30 days to somehow pretend that it's going to be better for the other 335 days of the year.

Now, really- some might say that my views on this are tainted- that most people involved in these programs give all 365 days, that they are continually active in preventing and dealing with child abuse... that their lives are dedicated to this cause, and that really these 30 days of April are meant to inspire others, to teach others- but that's not to say that they ignore the other months of the year. And I agree. There are people who make preventing child abuse a lifelong mission, and those people are to be highly commended.

And that's where the problem lies. Those who are on this mission- they are already doing all that they can, everyday that they can. They don't need a special month, a certain colored ribbon, or a flag stuck in the ground to be reminded of the children that are effected everyday by abuse- because they already do everything they can for these kids. And if the rest of us need a certain month to be reminded of children who are being victimized- well, that's just heartbreaking. No one should need to be reminded. No one should need a month dedicated to raising awareness- because it's something we all should be working to prevent every single day of the year. We shouldn't require a write up in the local newspaper in order to be prompted to reach out to a child who we see living in an environment that is unhealthy. We shouldn't need an ad on TV to remind us that if we see or know of a child who is being abused, we should step up to help them.

The fact that we need these reminders at all, is disheartening. But, the fact that someone actually understands that we DO need these... that's even sadder. Because I doubt that those who need to be reminded of the message the very most, will actually be moved into action in just a months time. Those are the people that need these reminders, these messages every single day- and lets face it- by the first of May, they are most likely to forget everything they just heard about, if they listened to it at all to begin with, and return to their shallow little lives- in the end moved to do nothing, and thus they will remain that way until next April comes around.

You see, that's really the problem with Child Abuse Awareness month- those who don't need the message are the ones getting the message, and those who need it most are only getting it for 30 days- and sadly, most of them are ignoring it anyway.

Every day of your life you have a responsibility to care for the children you brought into this world. To put their lives ahead of your own, to treat them with love, to cherish them- to never hurt them. You agreed, whether knowingly or not, to do your part to raise that child right the moment you helped bring them into this world. And, by default- by doing nothing more than breathing and living in this society you also have a second responsibility. You can try to blow it off by saying that it's not your problem, or that you don't like to get into other people's problems, or that you're just to busy raising your own children- but all those excuses are nothing more than sad cop outs. You know just as well as I do that you have a moral obligation, not just to seeing that your own children are well protected, but to also do what you can to protect other children. If that means stepping up and reporting abuse- then get some compassion and do it. I doubt any child is going to be upset that you helped saved them from being beaten by their parents.

April may be child abuse awareness month, but your devotion to doing all that you can to ensure every child has a safe environment to live in shouldn't start on the 1st and end on the 30th. You shouldn't need a reminder to do the right thing. Make everyday a day count become impassioned and motivated to help every single day of the year, and maybe one day we'll reach the point where we don't need a month to remind people that it's not okay to abuse a child, or to ignore the abuse of a child by someone else.