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Capitol Rally To Highlight Child Abuse Prevention

April 3, 2008

St. Paul, MN – Hundreds of people are expected to rally at the State Capitol today to draw attention to the prevalence of child abuse. Connie Skillingstad, executive director of says it's a growing problem that's too often overlooked.

"While Minnesota is really well known for our positive parenting, our child well-being, we have about 8,000 children who are abused or neglected annually."

Skillingstad says child abuse has a lifelong impact.

"When a child is abused or neglected, it affects their brain development, and then affects their ability to learn or it affects their success in terms of school and community. However, it also affects long-term, which means as adolescents, they make decisions sometimes that are self-destructive, like decisions to smoke cigarettes or to overeat or to have sex early."

She says in later years, it can cause mental and physical health problems, and abused children are more likely to become abusive parents.

Skillingstad says the most prevalent form of child abuse is neglect.

"That means kids aren't getting what they need. They're not getting to school, and parents are not making sure they are getting to school. Their medical means are not met, or they don't have adequate food or clothing. Or, they're living a home, which has so much disarray that it's not healthy for a child. Those are all issues of neglect."

She says the key to prevention is to strengthen families and help them to raise kids in a safe and nurturing way. Governor Pawlenty has declared April "Child Abuse Prevention Month."

For more information online, visit www.pcamm.org.

Jim Wishner/Kevin Clay, Public News Service - MN