April is National Child Abuse Prevention Month.

It’s a good time to remember that in good times, as well as the current tough economic times, child abuse cuts across social, racial and economic lines.

Its victims are found in penthouses and shotgun shacks.

It's a tragedy that often happens in a child's house -- where a youngster should feel the most safe and secure -- out of sight of concerned adults.

It's a crime carried out by those whom the youngster loves and depends on. Its victims are often too young to understand or speak out or defend themselves.

It's a dirty little secret.

No one likes to think that somewhere, every day, youngsters are being slugged into unconsciousness, burned, starved, deprived of proper medical attention and proper clothing, and in the worst cases, killed by those they only wanted to love.

Nonetheless, it happens.

Each year, more than 2,000 American infants and children -- more than five a day -- die at the hands of parents or caretakers, according to statistics from the U. S. Advisory Board on Child Abuse and Neglect.

Another 160,000 youngsters -- a number equal to the population of every man, woman and child in 26 cities the size of Ripley -- are permanently disabled or seriously injured annually, according to those figures.     

Why the abuse? Theories vary. Perhaps it's the pressures of single parenting. In a tough economy, perhaps a lost job triggers a blow-up, and someone takes it out on a kid. Perhaps too many adults, for whatever reason, treat kids as property instead of people. In one local social worker’s words: "It's do this, and bam bam if you don't."   

It's a dirty secret that is huge below the surface. Social workers estimate for every abuse case reported, three more aren't. 

If you know something, even suspect something, call the Tippah County Department of Human Services.

To report abuse or neglect, call the Abuse Hotline at 1-800-222-8000.

Help put the brakes on child abuse.

The call you make could save a Tippah County youngster from getting some real breaks at home.

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