There exists a threat to the children of our community. According to a 2005 report by the Center for Disease Control, 1 in 4 girls and 1 in 6 boys are sexually molested prior to age eighteen (18).

Law enforcement agencies – including prosecutors’ offices – are in the business of reacting to reports of child physical and sexual abuse. However, most of these child-victims do not report the abuse. Only a small portion of actual child abuse is reported to, and investigated by law enforcement. In total, only about 3 to 5% of child abusers are ever prosecuted and convicted.

So, what if – rather than merely reacting – law enforcement tried working with the rest of the community in an effort to prevent the harm from occurring?

This is the goal of a group of community leaders within the City of Forsyth, who have been meeting the past couple of months. These men and women have joined together to participate in a child protection task force that is still taking shape.

Taking a community-wide approach to child abuse prevention is a huge task, but it is not an impossible task. Hopefully, over the next few years, the City of Forsyth can create a culture of child abuse prevention that can work as a model to take to the other communities of Taney County.

April is Child Abuse & Neglect Prevention month, and April 8, 2016, has been declared “Go Blue Day” by the Children’s Trust Fund of Missouri. While Forsyth’s community task force continues to take shape, please join together in a show of support for child abuse prevention by wearing blue on Friday, April 8th.

We all have a responsibility to help prevent child abuse, and it is only through working together that we will create a safer environment for our children.