Cynthia Druley: We all have a role in protecting childrenShe goes on to give instructions on how to volunteer, and how "you can report your suspicions confidentially."
By the time you finish reading this article, more than 30 cases of child abuse will have been reported to authorities nationwide. By the end of today, that number will swell past 9,000. And four of those children will die at the hands of their abuser. All in a single day.
When we take stock of these sobering statistics during April — National Child Abuse Prevention Month — it's easy to be overwhelmed.
You may ask yourself, "What can I possibly do to make a difference?" You can play a role in preventing child abuse and neglect by becoming advocates for children.
For some of us, that advocacy comes in a formal role. Teachers, child care workers, health care providers and others who come into daily contact with children can be vigilant for signs of abuse and neglect. Taking action to report suspected abuse or to offer extra time and attention to fragile children and their families can do more than make a difference. It can save lives.
CASA (Court Appointed Special Advocate) volunteers stand up for abused and neglected children, giving them a voice in an overburdened child welfare (foster care) system that is hard-pressed to meet their individual needs. A CASA volunteer's comprehensive advocacy can support them during a very difficult time and break the cycle of abuse and neglect.
Children with CASA volunteers find safe, permanent homes more quickly, are half as likely to re-enter the foster care system, and do better in school. On a national basis, CASA organizations are making a profound difference in the lives of hundreds of thousands of abused and neglected children across the country. Last year CASA of Santa Cruz County made a difference in the lives of over 200 such children in our community. But despite all the children we have helped, there are still far too many who are left to fend for themselves.
CASA of Santa Cruz County is one of more than 900 CASA programs across the country committed to ensuring that every child who needs a CASA volunteer has one.
Does any of this creep you out? I never heard of CASA and did not know that we have court appointed busybody volunteers to spy on kids, intervene in families, and facilitate CPS action.
I knew about real parents, foster parents, adoptive parents, and guardians ad litem, but I did not know that the court is appointing child advocates. What is this all about? I don't get it.
Update: A reader points out below that I missed Santa Cruz County court appointed advocate arrested for child molestation, and this leetter:
I'm beginning to feel like I'm trapped in the film "Groundhog Day." Thursday, Feb. 27, the Sentinel featured yet another headline about alleged child molester Brian Criswell, entitled "Former court advocate to face trial." Good grief. Since mid-October you have run nine articles about this topic -- with every single headline identifying the defendant as a "court appointed advocate." A bit of overkill, yes?The local newspaper also had Friends of CASA hosts its annual fundraising luncheon at Serverino's.
As I check the archives, I did post the Criswell story, Court-appointed child molester, in Oct. 2013. I guess I forgot.