An Ounce of Prevention

April 1, 2015

By Angela Liddle

The old saying goes, “an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure,” and there’s probably no area in which that rings more true than in child abuse prevention. A few years back, PFSA took an in-depth look at the cost of child abuse in Pennsylvania and found that we spend more than $3.55 billion dollars each year investigating reports of suspected abuse, providing services to children and families directly impacted by abuse and attempting to “undo” the long-term consequences of child abuse. The Centers for Disease Control estimates that the cost for each victim of child abuse is more than $210,000 over a lifetime.

While all of these things are necessary and, often effective, they are not the entire solution. And as difficult as it is to quantify the cost of child abuse, the cost of prevention is even more elusive. In Pennsylvania, prevention services are provided at the county and community level through a combination of public and private providers. It would be safe to say, however, that we spend far less on prevention than on treatment and consequences of abuse.

So it’s time for Child Abuse Prevention Month, observed each April since 1990, a chance to highlight the importance of prevention. At PFSA, we work on child abuse prevention all year, but we make a special effort on outreach and awareness this month. Often this process involves helping folks to understand that each of us has a role to play in prevention and that we can each take small steps to combat this big problem. We can each provide our own ounce of prevention.

We will offer up an ounce of prevention each day in April via our Facebook page – some tips, some information, some inspiration – to help you take a small step. I hope you will check out our posts and offer your own suggestions as well. Here is a bit of what we plan to offer:

  • The importance of kids receiving support and encouragement from their neighbors
  • Success stories from parents who have benefited from parent support and education
  • Community efforts to prevent child abuse (including our Painting for Prevention murals)
  • Why traditions matter
  • Latest research on prevention strategies and trends

We hope that each small step you take will be the beginning of the journey to a Pennsylvania that’s safer for kids and families. James Vollbracht writes in “Stopping at Every Lemonade Stand:” It all begins by starting ‘small.’ When we begin to think small, we can become much like a master weaver who is asked to create a beautiful tapestry. First the weaver envisions the finished tapestry, seeing it in all its future beauty. Then, beginning with a single thread, the magic begins to flow from the weaver’s hands onto the tapestry. Some of the threads are thick and colorful, while others are more discreet, yet each thread in the tapestry is essential to the project. So it is with our community tapestry…..When we consider each small thread in the community tapestry as essential, we start seeing things differently. Maria Teresa summed it up beautifully when she said: “We can do no great things, but we can do small things with a great amount of love.”