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Alaska House Declares April “Child Abuse Prevention Month” in Alaska

JUNEAU – Today, the Alaska state House of Representatives passed legislation declaring April 2014 “Child Abuse Prevention Month” in Alaska. The resolution (HCR21), by Representative Geran Tarr (D-Anchorage), passed the House unanimously. 

“In 2013 in Alaska, there were over 40,000 allegations of child maltreatment with 5,000 of these substantiated,” said Tarr.  “In perspective, this is 13 children dealing in Alaska being abused every day. We must take this opportunity to work together and break this cycle of abuse.  Recognition and an open discussion are vital for Alaska to continue taking steps to reduce the rates of abuse and neglect in our great state, and help our children grow to their full potential.”

This abuse results in an estimated lowest cost per young Alaskan of $210,012 for healthcare, child welfare and protection, legal proceedings, special education costs, and public assistance.

These costs to the state come from the devastating effects which abuse and neglect can have on a young person.  Some of these effects include an inability to trust, improper brain formation, low self-esteem, and an increased vulnerability to posttraumatic stress disorder, sexually transmitted diseases, heart disease, and depression. 

Furthermore, about one-third of abused or neglected children become abusers themselves.  Abused or neglected children are also eleven times more likely to engage in criminal or other anti-social behavior, including drug & alcohol abuse.  As an adult, they are more than twice as likely to be arrested for violent or criminal behavior.

The resolution follows Governor Sean Parnell’s Executive Proclamation from February 14 declaring the same.  April has been National Child Abuse Prevention Month since the first Executive Declaration in 1983.  The resulting increase in awareness and prevention efforts led to federal grants, state and federal legislation, state Children’s Trust funds, more accessible resources, public service announcements, conferences, and task forces.

The resolution now moves to the Senate for consideration.

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