Each year, the Connecticut Department of Children and Families' child abuse and neglect hotline receives more than 90,000 calls.
"But our community doesn't understand what abuse and neglect is. Even worse, our victims don't understand," he said.
Mysogland was one of the speakers at a press conference last Thursday that was organized by the Center for Youth Leadership at Brien McMahon High School to mark April as National Child Abuse Awareness Month.
Mysogland told members of the CYL that when he was preparing what he would say to them, the words "thank you" kept coming to mind.
"In my world, I deal with foster care and adoption, the management of 4,500 kids who can't remain at home due to the significant neglect and abuse they have suffered in their own families," he said. "I also teach at Sacred Heart University, a class called family violence. This past week, once again we talked about child abuse and neglect, signs of abused children, injuries and the dynamics of what go on the home. A student after the class break didn't return. I got an email from her that evening saying it was just too much to take. She wrote that she realized sitting there that what I was talking about happened to her. She's 20 and she just didn't understand. She couldn't put words to the message, about the actions that were going on in her home and the effect they had on her.
"We need you to continue to do exactly what you do because you give our victims the voice."
Last November, members conducted a press conference in the wake of the child sex abuse scandal at Penn State. They also led two or three public awareness activities a month at school. The Senators also hosted their second Fill the Bus food donation drive for local domestic violence safe houses. And they proposed and testified in Hartford in support of SB193, which would require directors of youth camps to complete national criminal background checks.
"We do this and much more to raise awareness of child abuse, which is one of Connecticut's major social issues. As many of you know, 9,511 children were abused, neglected or uncared for last year in Connecticut. That includes 1,531 children in Connecticut and 225 abused children in our hometown of Norwalk," Cordovano said.
Tiffany McCarthy, director of family support and intervention programs of Norwalk-based Family and Children's Agency, said she was impressed to see so many teens at the press conference wanting to hear more about child abuse and neglect and learn how they can make a difference.
Last year, FCA served more than 725 families through family support prevention and intervention programs. It helped families manage stress that can lead to child abuse.
"Parenting is not an easy job, but with support it can be better managed. If you know someone who is a parent, don't be afraid to let them know you are there for them. Praise them for their efforts. Support them when they need it. If you see someone struggling in their parenting efforts, it's important that you help and not ignore what you are seeing," McCarthy said.
"We work with families on goals they would like to achieve. And educate them on the needs and development of their children. And help them access the different resources available to them in Norwalk and the surrounding communities. We also believe in helping families to better understand the strength they already possess. Finding the strengths in every family is an important first step in meeting those goals and understanding that they can make a difference in their child's life. It is our belief that families want to do what's best for their children but they don't always know how to make that happen."
Like McCarthy, Norwalk Mayor Richard Moccia was also inspired by the members of the CYL and encouraged them to continue their activism long after they leave high school.
"As I look at the numbers you put forth every year, and when I get the reports when we have child abuse in Norwalk, it angers me and it frustrates me because it continues. But it dawned on me, and there is no way to quantify this, but in your hearts and minds know, that if you were not doing this, it would be worse. In your hearts and minds know that if you reached one person that had issues, that had tendencies of violence and wanted to take action against a child, that because of your efforts and publicity he or she may have stopped," Moccia said.
"As you move forward in your careers, don't leave these efforts behind. Continue to join organizations that want to stop child abuse."
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