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Editor’s Note: Excerpts from this editorial were taken from a previous editorial that ran last year.

Child abuse is a difficult subject to talk about.

It can make people uncomfortable, uneasy. After all, there is nothing about the subject that is any good.

But we need to talk about it. If we don’t talk about it, the problem is going to continue to get worse.

April is Child Abuse Awareness Month in Illinois, and throughout the country. Last year, The Southern published a story every day to bring further awareness to the problem, and highlight the efforts of those working diligently to combat it throughout our region. We won’t do quite that much this year, although we still plan on covering the issue.

Southern Illinois has a lot of hard-working people and organizations that make it their mission to help abused children. Last year, we hope we did our part alongside the others who do such a great job. We promise to continue that effort.

The way to start fixing this problem begins with talking about the problem, then doing something about it.

And Southern Illinois has a problem with child abuse. Around Southern Illinois, rates of child abuse are higher than the statewide average. We still need to improve.

Poverty is a major factor.

“In poor areas, abuse and neglect go up,” Franklin County State’s Attorney Evan Owens said last year at a Child Abuse Awareness Month kick-off event at John A. Logan College.

Last year, we showed through a month-long series of stories that the numbers when it came to child abuse in Southern Illinois were unacceptable. They still need to improve.

Heck, until we get those numbers to zero, we still have work to do. And, it’s something that, again, is difficult to talk about.

Last year, we were dealing with a state budget issue. It was an issue that made many organizations have difficulties just keeping the doors open.

This year, we have a state budget – for now. But many organizations are still feeling the effects of the budget impasse.

These service providers need our help – still. And poverty is prevalent in Southern Illinois.

“We’re able to do more with less, and that’s the spirit of Southern Illinois,” Owens said last year. “Be involved, the community needs you.”

Being involved is part of our spirit. The communities in Southern Illinois have shown that over and over again.

That’s why we ask that everyone do a part. It can be donating money to one of these programs. Or lending time. Or just being a role model for some of the youth of our region.

Child abuse isn’t going to get any easier to talk to about. It will always be an uneasy subject.

But, if you see something, speak up. If you see a child in need, listen. If you see the signs for help or attention, by all means, help.

That’s the only way this problem will start to ease.

On Friday, April 6, Prevent Child Abuse Illinois, DCFS, the Poshard Foundation for Abused Children and other community organizations will host the annual Southern Region Child Abuse Prevention Kick-off at 10 a.m. at John A. Logan College. The main speakers include Brandon Zanotti, Williamson County state’s attorney; and Dr. Matt Buckman, of Egyptian Public & Mental Health Department.

It’s a great event to kick off a very important month for a very important cause.

We hope we can continue the momentum from last year. We hope we can help bring child abuse to an end in Southern Illinois.

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