Kentucky voices: Do not look away from child abuse

Whether it's the sordid details emerging from Penn State and Syracuse universities or the frustrating lack of transparency around child abuse investigations in Kentucky, too many children remain vulnerable to the evil deeds of adults.

In Kentucky, child abuse continues to be a major problem. We cringe when we hear stories of young people suffering from physical, emotional or sexual abuse, but the stories keep coming, and the Amy Dye tragedy was the latest to reach the public.

But maybe we don't hear the stories often enough. Child abuse and neglect, whether it's physical, sexual or emotional, is not a comfortable subject and too often it's tempting to adopt an "out-of-sight, out-of-mind" approach. However, that doesn't offer any protection for the children, only cover for the abusers who will continue to harm the vulnerable ones in their care.

That's why we must be open to talking about and reporting abuse, even when it makes us uncomfortable. Maybe when we are confronted with the ugly details about the pain, humiliation and suffering that thousands of Kentucky children endure, it will motivate us to be silent no more.

Facing the harsh realities of abuse may also result in us checking our priorities. Are we demanding that those tasked with enforcing and investigating child abuse laws have the adequate training, resources and funding to do their jobs? Once an abused child has been identified, are we ensuring that the agencies charged with providing them shelter and safety are equipped and funded to carry out their mission?

Government revenue can only be stretched so far, and there are more legitimate uses than there are dollars. It comes down to rethinking our priorities, and without a doubt, the safety and welfare of our children should be at the very top of that list.

Kentucky has a real crisis on our hands when it comes to abuse of our children. We must make protecting them a priority in both allocation of resources and willingness to become involved if we suspect child abuse occurring to a young person we know.

The lesson to be learned from these recent headlines is that we cannot look the other way when confronted with child abuse. We have a legal and moral obligation to step in, protect the children, and make sure that they have access to a safe, stable home.

Sunrise Children's Services and other agencies across Kentucky are dedicated to providing refuge to these children. Since 1869 our priority has been to care for abused and neglected children and our hope is that others across Kentucky will make our children their priority too.