Talks one step to stem abuse

The Junior League of Olympia knows that the first step in combating any social problem is to bring it out of the shadows. When the spotlight of public debate shines on an issue, it can no longer be ignored.

The league, a community service organization of 200 South Sound women, hope to kick-start a community wide conversation on the rising incidence of child abuse this evening with a town hall meeting at the Olympia Center.

Thurston County has one of the highest rates of early childhood trauma in the state, and abuse cases are skyrocketing here. They nearly doubled in 2011, and are increasing again this year.

The Thurston County Child Abuse Prevention Task Force says that while child abuse transcends all demographics and economic groups, young parents and males younger than age 25 are common perpetrators. Geographically speaking, Olympia’s west side, Lacey and Yelm are areas of the task force’s concern.

Tonight’s town hall meeting, which is open to the public, features speakers on how childhood trauma affects an entire community and comprehensive approaches implemented elsewhere that have reduced the rate of incidence.

Krista O’Byrne, president of the Junior League of Olympia, said, “We have worked alongside community partners for over 25 years on this issue, and yet we’ve seen the rate of abuse go up. Everyone needs to realize these are not just statistics – these are our children living in horrific circumstances.”

Kudos to the league for taking on a tough issue. Let’s get the conversation started.