Many people often assume that child abuse and neglect occur inside the home, usually at the hand of family members, but the fact is that child abuse and neglect can happen anywhere by anyone. Victims include not only the child, but all those impacted by the abuse or neglect, including family members, friends, witnesses, community members, frontline service providers, and others. We now understand that the trauma of child abuse and neglect has a ripple effect that can expand both horizontally throughout a society, as well as vertically across generations.
The murder of a child is the most extreme form of child abuse and the recent massacre of 19 children in Uvalde, Texas, compels us to speak out as the nation’s oldest academic center focused on the prevention and treatment of child abuse and neglect. We at the Kempe Center for the Prevention and Treatment of Child Abuse and Neglect are committed to supporting children, families, and communities in raising healthy children in loving families.
We urge everyone-parents, community leaders, lawmakers, and professionals-to follow the research and evidence, including the wisdom and voices of those with lived experience, on how best to support children’s health and well-being and protect them from all forms of abuse and neglect. We know that gun violence is the number one killer of children in the United States and that society is not doing nearly enough to ensure that children are not killed with guns either intentionally or accidentally.
We call on our leaders and offer our trauma-informed expertise and support to work together to ensure that child abuse and neglect-in all its forms-is eradicated so that children can grow and thrive in safe and healthy homes, schools, and communities.