Don't hesitate to report abuse
Abuse, neglect and death of a herd of cattle, and the decision not to prosecute the owner, has drawn a lot of attention recently, and with good reason.
Needless suffering in any form is repugnant to any normal, civilized human being.
Most of us are especially sensitive when it comes to helpless animals such as pets, but, ironically, too many look the other way when it comes to fellow human beings.
That's why the Nebraska Department of Health and Human Services has designated April as Child Abuse Awareness Month.
There are plenty of reasons to do so.
In 2007, there were 2,842 substantiated instances of child abuse and neglect in the state.
The most frequently substantiated allegations last year were:
* 80.8 percent (2,296) involving physical neglect
* 19.6 percent (557) involving physical abuse
* 10.1 percent (288) involving sexual abuse
Calls to the hotline alleging child abuse or neglect are up by 52.4 percent over the past five years, going from 16,246 calls in calendar year 2003 to 24,762 calls in 2007, according to the DHHS.
"During April, we remind people that we all have the power to protect a child," said Todd Landry, director of the Division of Children and Family Services in DHHS. "I appreciate the public's willingness to take action throughout the year, and call the hotline or law enforcement to help ensure children in their community are safe."
Possible warning signs that a child might be abused or neglected include:
* Not having enough food or clothing or a safe place to live.
* Parents not following a doctor's orders
* Having unexplained or repeated injuries like bruises, burns or cuts
* Leaving a child under age six in a car unattended
* Not providing the supervision needed to keep a child safe.
If you have any concerns, call the child abuse hotline at (800) 652-1999, and your call will be kept confidential, Landry said. Any emergency situation should be reported immediately to local law enforcement.
More information is available at http://www.dhhs.ne.gov/cha/chaindex.htm