Oklahoma flag display memorializes children lost to child abuse

(State Capitol) — Sixty-three Oklahoma flags are flying near the South Lawn of the Oklahoma State Capitol. While the flags typically represent Oklahoma pride, this week’s display represents a sobering statistic. Sixty-three Oklahoma children died in 2017 as a result of child abuse or neglect.

This message is presented by the Exchange Clubs of Oklahoma City. It is meant to draw attention and remind Oklahomans that the lives of these children are precious. It is meant to remind us that we, as a state, have an obligation to protect children from neglect and abuse.

April is Child Abuse Prevention Month. On Tuesday, the House and Senate passed HCR 1002, declaring April Child Abuse Prevention Month and urging citizens to improve the quality of life for all children and families.

Preventing the abuse and neglect of Oklahoma children is the mission of Parent Promise/Prevent Child Abuse Oklahoma, a 501 c 3 non-profit program started by the Oklahoma City Exchange Club in 1988. After more than 30 years in operation, our trained parent educators have worked with more than 6,500 families to help them put their children on a path to success.

Research shows that child abuse and neglect can be prevented if parents receive the education and support they need to be good parenting role models. That’s what Parent Promise, serving Oklahoma County, is all about – empowering parents to be able to provide safe, loving and nurturing homes for their children.

The number of flags representing child abuse deaths confirmed by the Oklahoma Child Death Review Board is, unfortunately, higher in 2017 than the last two years. Numbers showed 57 deaths in 2015 and 49 deaths in 2016. Additionally, the number of substantiated cases of child neglect and abuse is skyrocketing to almost 16,000.

“Investing in prevention programs not only saves lives, it also saves expenses associated with the fallout and trauma once a child has been abused,” said Sherry Fair, Parent Promise executive director. “When we help families by showing them ways to be nurturing parents and how to be aware of their child’s physical and emotional development, we are breaking the cycle of abuse. We are helping children enter school ready to learn and helping families become more self-sufficient.”