Letters

Letters Help prevent child abuse

To the editor:

Each year, more than 3 million children in the United States are reported abused or neglected, according to statistics released by Prevent Child Abuse America, the nation's leading child abuse prevention organization. Approximately 1 million of these cases are confirmed.

During 1999 in South Dakota, investigations or assessments were initiated for 8,338 children following reports of abuse or neglect. These statistics are particularly alarming in light of the fact that overall crime statistics have gone downward since 1993 while the number of children reported abused and neglected increased 9 percent from 1993 to 1997.

While it is important to take note of these statistics and to learn from them, it is just as important � maybe even more so � to prevent abuse and neglect form happening in the first place. That's what April's observance of Child Abuse Prevention Month is all about.

Here are a few simple ways each of us can help prevent child abuse and neglect:

1. Be a nurturing parent � Children need to know they are special and loved. Educate yourself about a child's development process so you can have reasonable expectations about what your child can and cannot do.

2. Help a friend, neighbor, or relative � Being a parent isn't easy. Someone you know may be struggling with his or her parenting responsibilities. Offer a helping hand.

3. Help yourself � When the big and little problems of everyday life pile up to the point you feel overwhelmed and out of control, take time out. Don't take it out on your child. Take a deep breath. Know where you can turn for help when you need it.

4. If your baby cries ? It can be frustrating to hear your baby cry, especially when nothing you do seems to work. Learn what to do if your baby won't stop crying. Never shake a baby!

5. Get involved � Advocate for services to help families. Ask your community leaders, clergy, library, and schools to develop services to meet the needs of children and family.

6. Monitor your child's television and computer use � Watching violent TV or playing violent computer games can harm young children. Not only does it scare them, it also teaches children that aggression is a good way to handle frustration and solve problems.

7. Spend time playing with your children � or read to them instead!

8. Report suspected abuse or neglect � Keeping children safe is the responsibility of every adult in our community. If you have a reason to believe a child has been � or may be � harmed, call your local Child Protection services office or Law Enforcement agency.

April's observance of Child Abuse Prevention Month is an appropriate opportunity to remind ourselves of our collective responsibility to prevent the abuse and neglect that robs so many of our society's children of their childhood, their sense of security and well-being, and their future. Together, we can make a real difference.

Clay County Child Protection Team

Thank you for feedback

To the editor:

I want to thank the people of Clay County who met with my staff assistant, Erik Nelson, during his recent outreach day in Burbank, Vermillion and Wakonda. Erik has updated me on the information and feedback that he received from Clay County citizens.

Erik had the opportunity to meet with a variety of business and community leaders during his day in Clay County. Erik started his day in Burbank holding traveling office hours at Whimp's. He then met with officials from the various school, town, and county organizations in Vermillion and Wakonda.

My staff's outreach days help me maintain communication with local communities regarding their ongoing development and growth and keep me informed of any issues of concern that they are dealing with. Again, I thank everyone who shared their concerns during these meetings. As always, feel free to contact my office toll free at 1-800-537-0025.

Tim Johnson

United States Senate

Consider becoming an organ donor

To the editor:

At one time, the donor designation on a driver's license indicated an individual's desire to become an organ or tissue donor. Now, this designation will do more � it will ensure those wishes are fulfilled.

Historically, LifeSource, the organization which manages donation in South Dakota, has relied on family consent for donation. Based on legislation passed in South Dakota in 2001, LifeSource will now be able to honor the driver's license designation as authorization for donation.

LifeSource recognizes the right of every individual to make a personal decision about donation and respects the importance of honoring those wishes to extend the gift of life to those in need.

LifeSource is not alone in making this important change. Currently, 27 states have something called first-person consent or donor designation legislation on the books. This means that an individual's decision to donate is paramount and sufficiently legal and should be respected at all costs.

Even if you have registered your intent to become a donor, we remind you to share your thoughts with your family. Sudden and unexpected death is tragic and painful. But many families receive comfort in knowing that their loved one's wishes have been met and that their final act can bring life to so many others.

Remarkably, one organ donor can save or enhance the lives of as many as 50 people. Eight vital organs can be donated, providing literally lifesaving benefit. Plus, numerous bones and tissues can be donated to restore movement to crippled or injured limbs and sight to eyes that were previously blind. Donated skin can speed recovery of badly burned patients.

The need for donation has never been greater. More than 80,000 men, women and children in the United States are waiting for a life-saving transplant and 17 people die each day simply because there is a shortage of organs. This April, during National Donate Life Month, we encourage all of you to take some time to learn more about donation. For additional information, call 1-888-5-DO

NATE or visit our Web site at www.organdonation.org.

Donation saves lives. Each person can help those in need by simply checking "yes" on their driver's license application and telling their family their wishes.

Susan Gunderson

Chief Executive Officer

LifeSource

St. Paul, MN

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