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One of the most painful side-effects of financial hardship is the rise of child abuse and neglect.

As families struggle with day-to-day survival issues and mounting
financial pressures, some parents can be pushed over the edge and end
up taking their pain, anger and frustration out on their children.

According to Childhelp.org, over 3 million child abuse cases are
reported every year in this country alone and about three times that
number of incidents occurs that are never reported. What’s even more
shocking is that we lose an average of 4 children each day and most of
those children didn’t live to see their 4th birthday.  According to Marian Wright Edelman, President of the Children’s Defense
Fund
, as the economy continues to take its toll on families, crisis
centers nationwide are seeing a sharp rise in child abuse and neglect
cases.

I was an abused child. I remember feeling badly for my parents in their
financial struggle and forgiving them for their inability to cope.
Somehow I knew that they didn’t have the skills or the spiritual
foundation to cope with their anger and frustration. I felt sorry for
them. But I vowed never to repeat this vicious cycle with my own child
and I am so grateful to have honored this pact with myself.


Children greatly need and deserve to be protected regardless of the
life challenges and circumstances of their parents. We can all make
difference in our schools and communities by becoming aware of the
signs and taking action when we suspect a child is being abused or
neglected:
1. Involve an authority. Never confront the parent directly. It could further endanger the child or possibly yourself.

2. Contact Child Protective Services (CPS) through the Child Welfare
Information Gateway.

3. If you are suddenly feeling overwhelmed and unable to cope with your
child or children, or you suspect a child is being abused, contact the
Childhelp National Child Abuse Hotline at 800-4-A-Child or visit their
website. All calls to this center are confidential and anonymous.

4. Watch this moving and informative video about child abuse.

5. Discuss your own experiences in the Beliefnet community.

Let’s keep our eyes and hearts open to the well-being of all of our
children by helping them and their parents to get the help they
desperately need.

Here’s a prayer by Mother Teresa that you can pray for the safety and protection of all God’s Children:
O God, we pray for all those in our world
who are suffering from injustice:
For those who are discriminated against
because of their race, color or religion;
For those imprisoned
for working for the relief of oppression;
For those who are hounded
for speaking the inconvenient truth;
For those tempted to violence
as a cry against overwhelming hardship;
For those deprived of reasonable health and education;
For those suffering from hunger and famine;
For those too weak to help themselves
and who have no one else to help them;
For the unemployed who cry out
for work but do not find it.
We pray for anyone of our acquaintance
who is personally affected by injustice.
Forgive us, Lord, if we unwittingly share in the conditions
or in a system that perpetuates injustice.
Show us how we can serve your children
and make your love practical by washing their feet.
~ Mother Teresa

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