According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, at least 1 in 7 children experienced child abuse and/or neglect in the past year. Officials also say that number is probably an underestimate.

In families of low socio-economic status, rates of child abuse and neglect are 5 times higher compared to children from families of higher socio-economic status.

In 2008, the economic burden associated with child neglect was about $124 billion, higher than the health care costs associated with stroke and type 2 diabetes, according to the CDC.

At the same time, approximately 6.5 million pets enter U.S. animal shelters nationwide every year. Of those, approximately 3.3 million are dogs and 3.2 million are cats. Many animals enter shelters after being abused or put out on the streets left to fend for themselves.

In the past year here in Marion County, there has been a celebrated case of a Winston the Yorkie that was abandoned and placed in a cooler bag and zipped up alone to die.

While the case was being heard recently in Marion County Court, Judge Patrick N. Wilson said while it was nice to see a large number of spectators look on during the trial of the man accused of animal cruelty, he seemed sort of puzzled.

Judge Wilson said he would like to see as many people show up in court in support of the families in which children are abused and neglected.

We agree with Judge Wilson – more people need to show care and concern for those who are voiceless. However, we are also concerned that we’re becoming a society that cares more for animals than we do our fellow man.

In recent months, there was the case in which a Fairmont mother was accused of latching her 3-year-old son in a room and not allowing him to have adequate food or drink. When the child was removed from the deplorable conditions, he told Child Protective Services how he had been abused.

The investigating law enforcement officer said the child told him, “Mommy did it with pliers,” when he asked the about signs of trauma on his genitals.

On Oct. 2, that child’s mother Brittany Lippincott pleaded guilty to one felony count of child neglect resulting in injury and one felony count of child neglect creating risk of injury or death.

Studies have shown that adults who abuse children were likely victims of abuse themselves as children. If Lippincott can be rehabilitated, we view that as a good thing. If she was a victim of abuse, perhaps she can get the help she needs.

Again, it’s great to have seen the support Winston’s owners received during the defendant’s hearings and sentencing, but we should show as much concern for our children.

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