Sometimes the most difficult issues to face are the ones in the direst need of attention.
Child abuse and neglect are indiscriminate and complex problems. They seep into every corner of society without regard to race, gender or socioeconomic status. They’re also challenging and uncomfortable topics for many to openly discuss because the subject matter – the destruction of innocence – is a dark and weighty talking point for polite conversation.
However, there is no better time than the present to continue addressing the need for these conversations because prevention now brings hope for a brighter future for all of us.
April is National Child Abuse Prevention Month, and for the past 40 years, Children’s Trust Fund of Michigan has been the only statewide agency solely dedicated to ending cycles of child abuse and neglect by supporting local councils in all 83 counties that strengthen families through education, awareness and programming.
I have been blessed to dedicate a significant portion of my time to area nonprofits striving to help children and families. Children’s Trust Fund has always held a special, personal place in my heart because of the work it performs to provide hope and happiness across Michigan. So, when I was asked by the governor to serve on CTF’s board of directors in March 2020, I jumped at the opportunity to play a part in producing positive outcomes not only for individuals and households but for society as a whole as well.
Unfortunately, the negative ramifications of abuse and neglect extend far beyond the boundaries of childhood. Numerous studies have shown the ripples of adverse childhood experiences stretch into adulthood, creating even further societal ills such as repetitive cycles of violence, drug abuse and mental and psychological consequences.
It’s why the importance of early, often and unyielding prevention efforts cannot be understated – and it also highlights why prevention is an issue where we all have a shared invested interest.
But what can we do as individuals?
The first step is simply awareness. CTF has a valued partner this year in Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan to help spread the message that prevention matters. There are a variety of events taking place in local communities across the state to highlight Child Abuse Awareness Month, and our hope is that you take note of them.
The second step is to get involved and take an active role. One way to get involved is by volunteering or donating to programs and services offered in your community. Another is to take part in CTF’s 20th annual Pam Posthumus Signature Auction Event on May 17. The annual gathering is being held virtually as well as in-person this year at the Breslin Student Events Center in East Lansing.
The more we talk about and implement child abuse and neglect prevention, the less power the issue holds as an uncomfortable and awkward topic. It’s time to open the lines of communication and have a dialogue of empathy, understanding and action.
Every voice matters.
To learn more about the Children’s Trust Fund, visit michigan.gov/ctf.
—Amy Tattrie Loepp, Chairperson, Children’s Trust Fund board of directors