Children are at Risk:
It’s Up to All of Us To Protect Them
Just days after schools, child-care, and after-school programs closed, child abuse reports across California drastically decreased. This is not good news — it is cause for deep concern. Vulnerable children at risk of abuse are “sheltering at home,” possibly under extremely difficult conditions. Even at the best of times, parenting is really hard, and during a crisis can be completely overwhelming. Now, family stress and tension are at an all-time high.
That young boy without a name, anywhere I’d know his face,
In this city, the kid’s my favorite. I’ve seen him, I see him every day.
I’ve seen him run outside looking for a place to hide…from his father…the kid half naked.
And said to myself, “Oh, what’s the matter here?”
The voices of our children can’t be heard right now during this time of extreme isolation. Without the protective eyes of the teachers, coaches, and doctors, who work with vulnerable children every day, we’re not learning about what may be happening behind closed doors.
We live on Morgan Street, just ten feet between, and his mother, I never see her
But her screams and cussing, I hear them every day
Threats like: “If you don’t mind I will beat on your behind,” “I’ll slap you, slap you silly.”
Made me say, “Oh, what’s the matter here?”
On any normal day, instances of child abuse are reported every 10 seconds. On any normal day, five children across the United States lose their lives due to abuse and neglect. The long term physical and behavioral health impacts of abuse and neglect can lead to educational delays, and collectively, may lead to involvement with the child welfare and juvenile justice systems. The lifelong costs are staggering. On any normal day, this is horrible at best…and these aren’t normal days.
All these cold and rude things that you do I suppose you do because he belongs to you
And instead of love, the feel of warmth, you’ve given him these cuts and sores don’t heal with time or age.
And I want to say, I want to say, “What’s the matter here?”
Now, more than ever, YOU need to say, “WHAT’S THE MATTER HERE?” If you hear a child screaming or crying frequently, notice young children being left alone for long periods of time, or suspect children are being harmed in any way, call for help. You don’t need proof of your suspicion. Even though it’s hard, especially during these challenging times, we all must make protecting children our business. If you suspect that a child is being abused, make a confidential report anytime by calling the local hotline at 800.540.4000 or 1-800-4-A-CHILD [National].
Every child deserves to grow up safe and nurtured and, yet, innocent children will be hurt unless we take a stand and help.
WHAT’S THE MATTER HERE. Written by: Robert Buck and Natalie Merchant. Published by: Christian Burial Music (ASCAP). All Rights Reserved. Used by Permission. International Copyright Secured.
Written By: Ronald E. Brown, Ph.D., President & CEO
Dr. Ronald E. Brown has been the President & CEO since 2018. Ron joined Children’s Bureau in 2000 where he managed the operations of Children’s Bureau’s foster care, adoption, mental health and child abuse prevention programs. He holds a B.A. in Social Sciences from the University of California, Santa Barbara, an M.B.A. from California State University, Long Beach, and a Ph.D. in Public Policy and Administration from Walden University.