State Rep. Harry Readshaw, D-Allegheny, is working to raise public awareness of the extent of child abuse in Pennsylvania and how to combat it.
He began by sponsoring a resolution adopted in the House (H.R. 47) that designates April as Child Abuse Prevention Month and now is helping to organize an April 6 rally and news conference in the Capitol Rotunda to promote the efforts of the Pennsylvania Family Support Alliance. The organization centers on education of families, professionals and others who come in contact with a child who may be experiencing abuse. The rally will begin at 10 a.m.
"It is our responsibility as parents, friends, neighbors, citizens and lawmakers to nurture and protect children, providing an atmosphere of love and respect in which they are able to grow into healthy, well-adjusted and productive adults," said Rep. Readshaw in his House resolution. "Child abuse crosses all racial, economic and geographic boundaries and has reached epidemic proportions across this nation and throughout this Commonwealth."
Rep. Readshaw said incidents of child abuse include non-accidental action or failure to act that result in serious physical or mental injury, or sexual abuse or exploitation.
There were more than 23,000 reports of possible child abuse investigated in Pennsylvania in 2006, and in better than 4,100 of those cases the allegations were substantiated.
"The first line of defense is for people to be able to recognize signs that a child may have been abused," Mr. Readshaw said. "This is especially important for people who come into regular or close contact with children, such as teachers, nurses, physicians, social service workers, neighborhood groups and athletic coaches.
"It's also important that we educate the public about what constitutes child abuse to better protect our children. A young mother or father may not know that an infant can be paralyzed or even die when shaken in a moment of anger or frustration."
The Pennsylvania Family Support Alliance has a website at http://pa-fsa.org.