This morning a small, three-year-old girl named Anna gets up at 6 am, walks to the kitchen and tries to find something to eat. Cockroaches scurry as she turns on the light. Her mother is in a deep sleep after a late night of physical fighting with her boyfriend, drinking and drug use. Anna stayed awake through it all experiencing a living nightmare. She’s only had four hours of sleep. She will take care of herself over the next five hours until her mom wakes up. Why does Anna matter to you?
If we follow Anna through her life, we see her begin her first day of Kindergarten behind. She has problems with learning, memory and doesn’t know how to get along with other children. At 10 she is three times more likely to experience academic failure and six times as likely to experience behavioral problems. At 15 her likelihood of teen pregnancy, smoking, substance use, and/or attempted suicide are much higher than her peers. At 20 she is at greater risk for involvement with the legal system, incarceration, experiencing domestic violence, and being absent from the work force. At 45 her chronic diseases such as diabetes, heart disease, and COPD lead to frequent and expensive use of the healthcare system. Most notably, she is continuing the cycle of adversity with her own children. (Learn more about why Anna experiences these health and social problems)
Anna matters to you because she represents thousands of children in our community who experience child abuse and neglect. These children grow into our neighbors who compromise safety, well-being and millions of tax dollars for all Tennesseans. We have a moral and financial responsibility to protect our most vulnerable citizens, our children, from abuse, neglect and family dysfunction.
Abuse is more than broken bones and bruises; Anna's story represents neglect and dysfunction that are far too common among many children. April is Child Abuse Prevention month. Take a stand with The Family Center this April to protect our most vulnerable citizens and invest in a happy, healthy future for Middle Tennessee.