The recent rash of child abuse and death cases in the media should serve as a wake-up call that we as a community, as a state, must pay attention to our children. This is important not only for their current welfare but for their well-being into adulthood and as they themselves become parents.
In the late 1990s, a study conducted at Kaiser Permanente found that children who encounter adverse childhood experiences have lifelong physical and behavioral health challenges. ACEs include: emotional, physical or sexual abuse; loss of a parent through divorce, death or incarceration; exposure to violence or experiencing hunger. As adults, these ACEs led to lost workdays, higher rates of cancer and stroke, increased incarceration rates and an upsurge in depression and suicide attempts.
We must care about early childhood development, because when we create healthier environments for all children, we’re promoting a healthier and more productive state and nation. When we invest in children, we don’t have to pay later as individuals or a society.
During this election season, when Louisianians are deciding who will lead our state for the next four years, it is important that we know where the candidates stand on supporting early child development and child protection. Are they willing to invest in our children now to have a brighter future for Louisiana? Do they understand the costs associated with doing nothing?
It is up to all of us to stand up and say that children must be protected and given the best opportunity to have a happy, healthy childhood.
executive director, Prevent Child Abuse Louisiana