April is Child Abuse Prevention Month, a time officially set aside by President Barak Obama for special consideration of one of the most vulnerable groups in America.
The subject permeates every level of our society and crosses all racial, political and religious boundaries and it comes in many forms.
From physical abuse, to neglect, to the type of emotional abuse that leaves them with low self-esteem and a growing resentment of authority.
It also touches my office because it is the children who suffer as much as anyone when a family loses a home for one reason or another.
The stress it creates, as mentioned last year in the journal Pediatrics, can lead to child abuse as parents manifest their frustrations in the form of physical assaults on their own children.
The children become victims again when they are forced to physically leave their home and move in with relatives, or another, probably less desirable home, or even a shelter.
As Sheriff of Philadelphia City and County, the above scenario is one my office bends over backwards to prevent.
We sponsor mortgage foreclosure workshops across the city and invite any entity we feel can address some aspect of the myriad of reasons that lead to a family losing their home.
From immigration officials, to health experts offering advice on everything from high blood pressure to diabetes and heart disease.
If you are sick, you can’t work, and if you can’t work, you can’t pay your mortgage.
At a workshop in West Philadelphia recently we had more than 250 members of the Caribbean and African community come together at St. Cyprian’s where we spoke in detail on different programs and hotlines available to help keep people in their homes.
Among the informational vendors were representatives from health care agencies, immigration, and certified mortgage counselors offering valuable advice for free.
On May 4th we will host another such workshop at The Council of Spanish Speaking Organizations (Concilio) at 705-709 N. Franklin Street from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. in partnership with El Sol, a Spanish language newspaper and will repeat this scenario in other neighborhoods throughout the city at least once a month for the rest of the year.
I have always believed that education is a powerful deterrent to hopelessness and ignorance.