You may have heard that question this week, or you may have thought that question yourself if you’ve driven on Lincoln Boulevard by the State Capitol.
It is an awesome sight. Hundreds and hundreds of American flags dot the South Plaza Field, and up on the berm is a row of Oklahoma flags, fluttering in the breeze. The flags will be displayed there through Sunday, April 30.
Yes, the sight of the flags is beautiful, but there is a sobering statistic associated with this particular display. The American flags represent the thousands of children in the United States lost each year to child abuse or neglect.
The Oklahoma flags represent the Oklahoma children lost to child abuse or neglect in 2016. There were 42.
This annual message presented each year by the Exchange Clubs of Oklahoma City and Parent Promise is not meant to depress you. It is meant, however, to get your attention and remind you that the lives of these children are precious. It is mean to remind you that we, as a nation and as a state, have an obligation to protect children from neglect and abuse.
Preventing the abuse and neglect of Oklahoma children is the mission of Parent Promise, a 501 c 3 non-profit program started by the Oklahoma City Exchange Club in 1988. After nearly 30 years in operation, our trained parent educators have worked with more than 6,000 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 is all about – empowering parents to be able to provide safe, loving and nurturing homes for their children.
The little bit of good news is that the number of 2016 deaths of Oklahoma children is down from 60 in 2014 and 57 in 2015. While the number of deaths is down, the number of substantiated cases of child neglect and abuse is skyrocketing to more than 15,000 in the past two years.
We need more funding and more programs like Parent Promise. Investing in prevention programs not only saves lives, it also saves expenses associated with the fallout and trauma once a child has been abused. 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.
If you want to help, you can DONATE NOW to support Parent Promise and the programs we provide. Parent Promise is a 501 c 3 non-profit organization, and your donation is tax deductible.