The last 10 years, it has been said, will be known as the Lost Decade for the United States. Encouraging political opportunities were missed or shunned, and the financial collapse stymied economic progress. In many respects, we are where we were 10 years ago.
War, floods, earthquakes and hurricanes claimed a terrible personal and financial toll during the last decade, and much of our focus and resources were dedicated to managing these crises.
Of the decade's tragedies, one has resulted in more than 10,000 deaths, and many more thousands injured. Some of those injuries were minor, only cuts and bruises. Broken bones and serious gashes were common among the more threatening injuries. And emotional trauma will plague the victims for years, perhaps always.
These troubling descriptions are not of casualties from recent earthquakes, floods or even our current wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. They were not inflicted by violent acts of nature, or senseless radicals, although they are most certainly senseless. These wounds were inflicted on our children, by parents, stepparents, caretakers, strangers and family friends.
Every Child Matters Education Fund released a report late last year sadly noting that 10,440 children died of abuse and neglect between 2001 and 2007. And unfortunately, it acknowledged that the actual totals are likely higher since definitions of abuse vary among states, and record-keeping is inconsistent.
So, we know that between 2001 and 2007, at least 10,440, and likely more, children died at the hands of their abusers in the United States. That is more than double the American fatalities from Iraq and Afghanistan combined.
Yet we rarely, if ever, see political speeches or large demonstrations protesting the terrible causes of child abuse like we have seen with the protests that have accompanied many other recent conflicts and tragedies.
There was no public outcry over these statistics like we saw in the weeks following the earthquake in Haiti, no telethons hosted by coaches or Hollywood celebrities, no former presidents appointed to manage solutions to this problem. The public's response to this tragedy, the ongoing epidemic of child abuse, does not compare to that of the other tragedies in the last decade.
Although the overall public response is unequal, there are those who are working to stop child abuse. There are those who are reacting to the loss of thousands and, at the same time, the loss of one child. One child like Katelynn Stinnett.
Katelynn Stinnett is a victim of child abuse. In November 2008, she and her brother were in the care of Brian Crabtree, a roommate of the Stinnett children's father. On Nov. 25, a few days before Thanksgiving, Crabtree allegedly attacked Katelynn. The little girl, only two years old, was beaten and raped.
She survived a little more than a week, but was unable to overcome the terrible injuries. Katelynn Stinnett passed away at the University of Kentucky Medical Center on Dec. 3, 2008.
Crabtree was arrested and charged with murder, rape, sodomy and sexual abuse. This September, he will stand trial.
Since her passing, Katelynn has been remembered and honored by, among others, Crickett Lanham-Lee, the Borrowed Angels Charity Riders and many other bikers and volunteer coordinators throughout the country. Across the country, many in the biker community, those who never met Katelynn, donated funds for the little girl's headstone, and the words "Our Borrowed Angel" were inscribed on the stone.
Last year, Lanham-Lee, along with these coordinators, organized a memorial ride in Katelynn's name. On June 19, the second annual Katelynn Stinnett National Memorial Ride will take place.
It is truly a national ride. Last year, riders in 43 states participated all in hopes of raising awareness of child abuse and funds for prevention efforts. Last year's ride raised more than $150,000 for charities involved in child abuse prevention, $4,000 of it in Lexington, where Katelynn lived.
As you can see, the Katelynn Stinnett National Memorial Ride has already made a difference. It is a noble and certainly much needed effort to raise awareness of a senseless tragedy, a tragedy too often overshadowed by many other conflicts and disasters.
Saturday, when our community and communities across the country hear the roar of passing bikes fill the air, please know you are hearing the voice of bikers everywhere, riding for those who have no voice.
For more information or if you would like to help, please access the Katelynn Stinnett National Memorial Ride website, KSNMR.com.