If you have passed by the Crook County Courthouse and Prineville City Hall plaza recently, you have no doubt noticed the blue pinwheels that now adorn the area.

The decorations, though beautiful, are meant to highlight and raise awareness for something much uglier and truly troubling. Once again, April has been slated Child Abuse Prevention Month, and local officials are pushing a campaign theme of “Speak up and Save a Child.”

We couldn’t agree more.

The Child Abuse Prevention and Treatment Act defines abuse as “any recent act or failure to act on the part of a parent or caretaker, which results in death, serious physical or emotional harm, sexual abuse or exploitation; or an act or failure to act, which presents an imminent risk of serious harm.”

In 2012, nearly 3 million cases of abuse were reported in Oregon, and about 1,600 children died throughout the country, with 70 of them younger than three years old. About 80 percent of the fatalities were caused by one or both parents.

It is hard to aptly describe how horrific and sad these statistics are. That is why we urge all people to truly take the campaign message to heart. People need to keep their eyes and ears open and not be afraid to act on a concern or a suspicion. We urge people to learn what constitutes child abuse, how to identify the signs, and have the courage to speak up.

We understand that people often want to stay out of other people’s business and nobody wants to report someone only to later find out that there was nothing wrong. This is why we feel that reporting takes courage, and we would urge people to err on the side of caution. Yes, it could be nothing, but abuse was taking place, wouldn’t it be far better to help put a stop to it before a child is harmed further, or worse yet, killed?

The website states that everyone can play a role in preventing child abuse and neglect and promoting child and family well-being. What better cause to support and commit to than protecting children. We all need to pay attention, speak up, and save a child.

Contract Publishing

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