This is an author’s note regarding facts and figures.
As you know, Aaron Hotchner is a fictional character. Child abuse and its effects, however, are very real and often deadly. In the U.S. alone, of the 6 million children who are abused or neglected, an estimated 1,640 children die every year (4 to 5 children per day). Just over 75% of these children are only three years old or younger. Also, three-quarters of child abuse deaths happen at the hands of parents. Worldwide, abuse affects about 40 million children.
The four types of child abuse are physical, emotional, sexual, and neglect. All are incredibly harmful and may have lasting effects on the child. Many children who have been abused repeat the cycle by abusing others, but this is never the only option. Many abused children have become successful adults, loving parents, and stable citizens. Individual choices truly are crucial, and I have seen the results of many different choices.
It is important to consider the distinction between abuse and discipline. I do support the latter within reason. However, the line between the two is often hard to define. In most U.S. state jurisdictions, the law distinguishes abuse as “any act (or failure to act) that:
Results in imminent risk or serious harm to a child’s health and welfare due to physical, emotional, or sexual abuse;
affects the child (typically under the age of 18);
by a parent or caregiver who is responsible for the child’s welfare.”
In most states, people have a legal and moral obligation to report to the authorities if they suspect child abuse or neglect. This can be done anonymously by calling a statewide, toll-free hotline (see list at the end). Unfortunately, I can only speak for U.S. law and customs. I am sure that similar support systems and hotlines have been set up in many other nations as well, which you can probably find out with a little research.
For more details about spotting the signs of abuse and knowing what to do, you can visit the official website of the FBI and enter the search words “child abuse.” One of the first few search results is “When You Suspect Child Abuse or Neglect.” This link will take you to a brochure that outlines nearly everything you need to know. Another helpful search result is “The Child Victims Brochure.” This link gives a lot of helpful information about reporting abuse and talking to the child in question.
If you have been or are being abused, know that there is hope. You can get help by calling your state’s abuse hotline or talking to a school counselor, police officer, pastor, or trusted adult. And no matter what, know that Jesus loves you so much He was willing to die in your place so that you can have eternal life with Him, even if your physical body perishes. His love is greater than anything. You can learn more by reading the Bible, especially starting with the books of Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John. The entire Bible is available online at sites like Bible Gateway.
State Specific Child Abuse Hotlines
ALABAMA: (334) 242-9500
ALASKA: (800) 478-4444
ARIZONA: (888) SOS-CHILD, or (888-767-2445)
ARKANSAS: (800) 482-5964
CALIFORNIA: (800) 422-4453
COLORADO: (303) 866-5932
CONNECTICUT: TDD: (800) 624-5518, Toll-Free: (800) 842-2288
DELAWARE: (800) 292-9582
DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA: (202) 671-SAFE, or (202-671-7233)
FLORIDA: (800) 96-ABUSE, or (800-962-2873)
GEORGIA: (800) 422-4453
HAWAII: (808) 832-5300
IDAHO: (800) 926-2588
ILLINOIS: Toll-free: (800) 252-2873, Local: (217) 524-2606
INDIANA: (800) 800-5556
IOWA: (800) 362-2178
KANSAS: (800) 922-5330
KENTUCKY: (800) 752-6200
LOUISIANA: (800) 422-4453
MAINE: TTY: (800) 963-9490, Toll-Free: (800) 452-1999
MARYLAND: (800) 422-4453
MASSACHUSETTS: (800) 792-5200
MICHIGAN: (800) 422-4453
MINNESOTA: (800) 422-4453
MISSISSIPPI: Toll-free: (800) 222-8000, Local: (601) 359-4991
MISSOURI: Toll-free: (800) 392-3738, Local: (573) 751-3448
MONTANA: (866) 820-5437
NEBRASKA: (800) 652-1999
NEVADA: Toll-free: (800) 992-5757, Local: (775) 684-4400
NEW HAMPSHIRE: Toll-free: (800) 894-5533, Local: (603) 271-6556
NEW JERSEY: TDD: (800) 835-5510, TTY: (800) 835-5510, Toll-free: (877) 652-2873
NEW MEXICO: Toll-free: (800) 797-3260, Local: (505) 841-6100
NEW YORK: TDD: (800) 369-2437, Toll-free: (800) 342-3720, Local: (518) 474-8740
NORTH CAROLINA: (800) 422-4453
NORTH DAKOTA: (800) 422-4453
OHIO: (800) 422-4453
OKLAHOMA: (800) 522-3511
OREGON: (800) 422-4453
PENNSYLVANIA: (800) 932-0313
PUERTO RICO: Toll-free: (800) 981-8333, Local: (787) 749-1333
RHODE ISLAND: (800) RI-CHILD, or (800) 742-4453
SOUTH CAROLINA: (803) 898-7318
SOUTH DAKOTA: (605) 773-3227
TENNESSEE: (877) 237-0004
TEXAS: Toll-free: (800) 252-5400, Local: (512) 834-3784
UTAH: (800) 678-9399
VERMONT: (800) 649-5285
VIRGINIA: Toll-free: (800) 552-7096, Local: (804) 786-8536
WASHINGTON: TTY: (800) 624-6186, Toll-free: (866) END-HARM, or (866-363-4276), After Hours: (800) 562-5624
WEST VIRGINIA: (800) 352-6513
WISCONSIN: (800) 422-4453WYOMING: (800) 422-4453
Here are a few more quick, relevant facts to help you stay informed —Does abortion decrease the number of child abuse cases? In 1973, the Roe v. Wade Supreme Court decision legalized abortion in the United States, which has been argued as a preventative solution to many child abuse situations. That year, there were about 167,000 child abuse cases. Just ten years later, the number of annual child abuse cases increased by 500% to 929,000 cases.
The number has rapidly grown and is currently estimated at about SIX MILLION abused children annually (about 3 million cases, many involving more than one child, generally estimated at about 6 million individuals). This marks a 3492% (three thousand four hundred ninety-two percent) increase since 1973. Also worth noting, there have been approximately 56 million abortions since Roe v. Wade. Don’t take it from me; you can look up these figures. Do these facts point to a widespread disregard for the value of children’s lives? What do you think?
Thank you all for reading, and God bless.