- The Washington Times - Sunday, March 31, 2002

Our nation's capital has a serious problem affecting children and families of all races, religions, and economic backgrounds. According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, every two hours a District child is reported abused or neglected.
Child abuse and neglect is a national problem. A U.S. Justice Department report recently revealed a shocking fact, 1 in 3 children in the United States will experience some form of abuse in their lifetimes. While these numbers are alarming, they reflect reported cases. If every case of abuse and neglect was reported the number would most certainly be significantly higher.
April is "Child Abuse Prevention Month," a time to focus on the protection and care of our most vulnerable, trusting and innocent members of society children.
Since annual presidential proclamations in 1983, individuals and organizations such as the D.C. Children's Trust Fund, a provider of abuse and neglect prevention resources for families and children, have joined together during the month of April to raise the public's awareness of child abuse and its prevention.
How can we help ensure our children will be safe in their own communities, neighborhoods and homes? The answer is education and parent support.
The mission of the D.C. Children's Trust Fund is to protect children from abuse and neglect through public education and funding parent-support programs. The trust serves as a catalyst for prevention efforts by leveraging private and governmental resources, and providing resources and technical assistance to community-based organizations, schools, and churches to strengthen families and thereby prevent or reduce the risk of child abuse.
Parental prevention education is an important step in the prevention of child abuse and neglect. Parents who take time out for themselves have more patience and energy that is needed to nurture their children. Being a parent is hard work and no one should hesitate to ask for assistance. Parents can call a friend or join a support group, such as Parents Anonymous, if they feel overwhelmed or the day-to-day stress is simply too much to handle.
A majority of families have two working parents in order to provide for the family's basic needs. However, in the District more than 60 percent of children live in single-parent homes, which means it is difficult for parents to find time for themselves when they are doing the job of two parents. Single parents who don't have time for themselves still need to take time out everyday. In order to take good care of your child, you must take good care of yourself.
This April, please take time out for yourself as a parent and take time out of your hectic schedule to spend time with children.

Kinaya Sokoya is executive director of the D.C. Children's Trust Fund.

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