Our View: Preventing abuse requires uncomfortable conversationGetting more people talking about the ugly crimes committed against children in a way that’s hopeful — and helpful — is a goal behind “I Stand with Kids."
We don’t talk about it. Or even try to think about it.
“People hear ‘child abuse,’ and they think, ‘Oh, that’s really icky,’ or, ‘Oh, that’s really sad.’ Or they react with anger and then that’s it. We want to get people talking and thinking about it in a way that’s hopeful,” Beth Olson, executive director of the First Witness Child Abuse Resource Center in Duluth, told the News Tribune Opinion page this month.
Getting more people talking about the ugly crimes committed against children in a way that’s hopeful — and helpful — is a goal behind “I Stand with Kids,” a month-long campaign of First Witness and of other child abuse resource centers from across the state. If no one talks about abuse, if it becomes taboo or an off-limits topic, kids may be reluctant to say anything if abuse happens to them or to someone they know.
“Our goal is to demystify assumptions made about victims and perpetrators of child abuse and educate our community about the services First Witness provides,” said Cellie S. Dudley, a community outreach specialist for the nonprofit.
“If we’re not talking about it, how can we expect kids to talk about it and to tell us when it’s going on? We’re standing with kids so no child has to stand alone,” said Olson. “Too often people suspect (abuse) and don’t do anything. ‘That’s family business.’ ‘That’s not our business.’ That needs to change.”
When it does, she said, “The community can look a lot different, a lot safer.”
The Northland can help First Witness spread its message by supporting and participating in the campaign. Videotaped testimonials from community leaders, abuse-prevention tips (some of which are published here) and other information are posted at firstwitness.org. Activities culminate with blue, child-shaped lawn signs set up all along the Lakewalk from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. on April 30. The signs are to be adorned with sponsors’ names. Sponsorships are $20 to $50.
“We’re trying to engage all aspects of the community to work together to prevent child abuse,” Olson said.
A worthy goal — as uncomfortable as the issue may be.