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MONDAY, JULY 9, 2007
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LETTERS TO THE EDITOR

Other countries protect their children from abuse

To The Daily: Re: the June 27 editorial concerning child abuse. It was reported by The University of Alabama Center for Business and Economic Research that there were 26,992 cases of child abuse and neglect last year in the state of Alabama. The cost of dealing with those cases was $500 million, the study said.

About 25 percent of child abuse and neglect reports involve physical abuse. Physical abuse almost always begins with hitting children. Researchers say that, for every confirmed case of physical abuse, there are 20 to 50 that go unreported. It is a tragedy of great proportions.

Why do we continue to spend billions of dollars in the U.S. on child abuse and allow children to slip between the cracks of institutions that are designed to protect them? It is not a situation without remedies. Eighteen countries have banned all corporal punishment of children in order to reduce child abuse and give children the protection that all other human beings have to be free from physical harm.

The countries that have banned its use have far less child abuse. The law is enforced in ways that assault laws are enforced for adults — minor physical punishment that does not leave marks is either ignored or parents are required to attend parenting programs. Children are still disciplined, but in ways that do not involve hitting. These countries send a message that abuse of children will not be tolerated. We would do well to look into this remedy for the horrendous rates of child abuse in this country.

It is shameful that you cannot beat your spouse, your neighbor or your neighbor’s dog but you can beat your child in the U.S.

Nadine Block
Executive director, Center for Effective Discipline and
co-chair of EPOCH-USA
Columbus, Ohio

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