When most people think of crime and crime statistics, they think in terms of classifications such as murder, robbery, rape, assault, burglary, and theft. Most of those types of crimes can be heard discussed on the nightly news throughout the country.  



A primary reason for hearing so much about those types of crime is because of the prevalence in reporting such crimes to the police. The media hear about it and it becomes one of the stories that attract viewers.

When most people think of crime and crime statistics, they think in terms of classifications such as murder, robbery, rape, assault, burglary, and theft. Most of those types of crimes can be heard discussed on the nightly news throughout the country.  

A primary reason for hearing so much about those types of crime is because of the prevalence in reporting such crimes to the police. The media hear about it and it becomes one of the stories that attract viewers.  

Unfortunately, one of the least noticed crimes in the U.S. reported to the police or reported by the media is child abuse. Even so, The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services reports, “Children are suffering from a hidden epidemic of child abuse and neglect. Every year 3.3 million reports of child abuse are made in the United States involving 6 million children; that’s because reports can include multiple children. The United States has the worst record among industrialized nations – losing five children every day due to abuse-related deaths.” In 2010 the number of reported child deaths per day due to child abuse and neglect was more than five.

Why would such a heinous crime not be reported in each case? Perhaps a clue comes from the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children, which says, “The danger to children is greater from someone they or their family knows than from a stranger.”

In many cases that “someone” the family knows is part of the family. It may be the mother, the father, sibling, uncle or cousin.

According to the United Nations Children’s Fund, in the past decade, there have been more than 20,000 American children killed in their own homes by family members. An estimated 553,000 children suffered physical, sexual or emotional abuse from 2005 to 2006, which is actually down from 743,000 abuse victims in 1993. Of all children under age 5 murdered between 1976 and 2005, about two-thirds were killed by their parents.  

Perhaps most shockingly, according to a 2003 report in the Journal of the American Medical Association, “At least 85 percent of North Carolina newborns who were killed or left to die were murdered by their mothers (usually through strangulation or drowning). Yet the public is largely unaware of (or indifferent to) parents who murder their children.”

What can we do to defend children from such atrocities? As a community, child abuse must be reported when it is suspected. Citizens working together with schools, family services, physicians, and the police can investigate child abuse and help put an end to the cycle. But it must be reported.  

Sexual predators can be stopped if they are reported. Citizens must educate themselves on the signs of sexual abuse toward children and act upon it. Every family in the United States is at risk for such crimes. Partnering with your local police, and asking your family medical doctor are two of the best places to start for protecting children.

Please go to the Independence Police website at: www.ci.independence.mo.us/IPD/VictimServices.aspx for a listing of resources to help victims of crime and to begin your education on how to protect the children in your life.