Courage is a word we typically associate with soldiers, firefighters, policemen and women, and others fighting on the frontlines to keep all of us safe from harm. But courage can also be ascribed to those who push fear, stigma and discomfort aside to talk about that which society keeps in the shadows. These individuals are courageous because their actions -- combating secrecy by communicating openly -- protect us from harm, especially the most vulnerable among us.
Many researchers believe nearly five children die every day in America from abuse and neglect -- some 2,500 a year. Every year during the month April, communities across the country come together in support of this startling issue and focus on prevention and awareness raising to reduce the number of American children who sadly are victims of abuse.
A crime of secrecy, child abuse tragically breeds within our society because it is difficult to talk about. In an effort to break this silence, National Children's Alliance has coordinated the launch of the One With Courage campaign across the country. One With Courage is the first-ever national public awareness initiative centered on the courage it takes to talk about child abuse, learn the signs of abuse, and report abuse when it's suspected.
Why One With Courage? Because it takes tremendous courage for young victims to come forward and talk about the abuse they've experienced. It takes courage for adults to recognize the signs of abuse and report suspected abuse. And it will take courage for all of us to engage in an open dialogue about child abuse.
One With Courage also aims to highlight the unique role children's advocacy centers play in providing comprehensive, coordinated and compassionate services to child victims of abuse across the country. In 2011 alone, Children's Advocacy Centers across the country served over 279,000 child victims of abuse and their non-offending family members. Without the intervention services of a Children's Advocacy Center like ours, these child victims may never have been helped and statistics tell us the abuse would have likely continued.
As a leader in the child advocacy field, National Children's Alliance believes in the courage it takes to stand up for our children and protect them from abuse. While this issue is brought to the forefront during the month of April, we hope local communities will continue to be One With Courage year-round, and help us win the fight against child abuse and neglect that plagues every community across the country. It is only after we establish informed, empowered communities that we can eradicate child abuse.
More information about how to be One With Courage by equipping our communities with the knowledge needed to recognize the signs of abuse can be found online at www.onewithcourage.org. Please visit this site to learn the big and small ways each of us can join the fight.