Thursday, April 17, 2014

April is Child Abuse Prevention Month

In 1983 April was proclaimed Child Abuse Prevention Month by the president. I don’t know how April was chosen but it doesn’t matter. The important thing is that we have a month where there is an extra effort made to stop this awful behavior that is so rampant in our society. 

According to Children’s Bureau (U.S. Department of Health and Human Services) there were 686,000 children abused or neglected in the fifty U.S. states, DC, and Puerto Rico. Of those, 1640 died. Many of those could have been prevented with good community programs in place such as early childhood development programs, parental support, and maternal mental health.

The Child Welfare Information Gateway provides some good information on how to help your community prevent child abuse.

This is a cause that is very near and dear to my heart. I have spent a great deal of my life fighting this battle. I worked as a child advocate for many years and I continue to do what I can to prevent child abuse. This is a cause you can join as well. Many businesses are joining this fight, and for those of you who can, getting personally involved is the best way. There’s a wonderful program called Court Appointed Special Advocates (CASA) that offers hands on volunteer work through the juvenile court system. It’s a great way to provide direct help to abused children.

So, what does this have to do with writing? Writing about the juvenile court system is what I have done for the past ten years. I write mysteries to entertain. I chose the subject matter not only because I have first hand knowledge of it, but also because I hope to raise awareness of the problem.

Writers: Do you include tidbits (or vast amounts) of information that help educate the reader?

Readers: Do you read novels for pure enjoyment or do you hope to glean some knowledge from your fiction as well?

Teresa Burrell
Author of The Advocate Series


  1. I love it that you write about a social issue that you feel passionately about. I'm sure that's a big part of why readers are drawn to your stories. It's a delicate subject for fiction, and you handle it well.

    I also write about social issues, and yes, I include real information that I hope my readers will take note of. My latest? In Crimes of Memory, I snuck in a few facts about the bottled water industry, hoping that readers will at least think about recycling.

    1. Way to go, L.J. I like the recycling angle.

      It is a tough subject to write about, but well worth the effort.

  2. Thank you for sharing what you do for such an important cause. It's something that I've been involved in a lot as a doctor and it's a painful topic that continues to dominate headlines here whenever a child dies as a result of child abuse. The training of staff who are exposed to children who may be victims of abuse is something that the health care and social care systems here invest a lot of effort, time, and money in.

    Coming to your question, as a writer, I do include science and technology info to make the plot more believable for the reader. I try not to do data dumps that distract from the story. From some of the reviews I've gotten, my readers appear to have had a modicum of education from the information :)

  3. I feel I write more stongly when I write about something that matters, and people might actually think about that same something a little differently than they did before they read my book. I include tidbits that I find fascinating because as a reader, I love learning through fiction.

    Kudos to you, Teresa, for tackling a subject many others would not know how to handle. Your passion combined with your experience only adds to the entertainment value of your books.

  4. ***(David Kaufmann sent this comment to me as he wasn't able to leave it on our site for some reason.)***

    A strength of detective-mystery stories is the ability to tackle social issues with an oblique directness. Critics overlook this.

    We need more than a month to focus awareness on preventing child abuse. It should be a national priority. That there is not more outrage - and demand for action - is more than a shame. It's a scandal and disgrace.

    Thank you for the post, Teresa


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