Several months ago at a Valentine’s Gala of the “Books for Sumter Kids,” Brad Ray, of the Southwest Georgia Children’s Alliance, shared information and visuals with attendees concerning the facts on child abuse and its effects. Ray spoke of a problem that is very much present in Sumter County, as well as throughout the nation. He revealed troubling trend numbers in Sumter County, Georgia and the United States.
After his presentation, Pam Perry of Perry Wellness Center approached Brad Ray with an invitation to visit the center and deliver this same information to staff. Some time later, Ray visited the Americus recovery center and shared these facts with some 18 staff members.
Ray discussed information on not only child abuse, but other problems frequently associated with a history of abuse or neglect. Among the statistics he shared were the following:
- There are over 693,174 confirmed reports of child abuse and neglect yearly.
- Nearly 5 children die every day from abuse and neglect (up from 4 per day in 2007).
- Children aged birth to 3 years had the highest rates of victimization from abuse and neglect.
- Over 75% of reported children suffered neglect; more than 15% suffered physical abuse; and just fewer than 10% suffered sexual abuse.
- One or both parents were involved in 80.9 % of child abuse or neglect cases (6.3 % were other relatives).
- Georgia had 73,042 (up from 67,89j0 in 2012) reports of child abuse and neglect made to the Department of Family and Children Services, with 12,200 substantiated incidents of abuse/neglect.
- 13, 648 children came through the foster care system during state fiscal year 2013.
- On any given day, about 7,400 children are in the foster care system.
- Georgia has the second highest child obesity rate in US.
- Nearly 40 % of children in Georgia are overweight or obese.
- Teen pregnancy and births (49.7/1000) are substantially higher in GA than the U.S. as a whole.
- 2 out of 3 4th-graders in Georgia are not reading at grade level.
- Reading proficiency gaps between low and high-income students have increased by 23% in the past decade.
- 79% of low-income students are not reading at grade level.
IN SUMTER COUNTY:
- Teen pregnancy and births (68/1000) are substantially higher than the state average.
- The immediate and tangible costs of intervention and treatment for a single incident of substantiated child sexual abuse are $14,345.
- 23% of teens drop out of school.
Out of 159 counties, Sumter County is ranked:
- 9th for child neglect cases
- 2nd in child runaways
- 9th in children victimized within 6 months after discharge from care
- Ranked #1 for overall STD (adult and juvenile) according to the Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation)
IN THE U.S.:
- Costs to society were $103.8 billion in 2010 (Pew Charitable Trust).
- 40% of all births were to unmarried women, 23% of which were to teens.
- Teen pregnancy and births (34.3/1000) are substantially higher in US than other western industrialized countries.
- Children in homes where domestic violence occurs are physically abused or seriously neglected at a rate 1500% higher than the general population.
- Boys who witness domestic violence are twice as likely to batter their female partners as adults than boys with non-violent homes.
Additional information on current trends in Sumter County and Georgia can be found on the CASA website at http://www.casaforchildren.org.
Brad Ray is the executive director of SOWEGA CASA and the Southwest Georgia Children’s Alliance located in Americus, GA. A transplanted Floridian, he brings a diverse professional background which includes experience as a capital bureau legislative reporter; owner of a public relations and advertising firm; co-owner of college newspapers, and a political consultant. He holds a Bachelors of Science from Florida State University and a Masters of Public Administration from Valdosta State University. He is also a certified Yoga instructor.
In addition to his activities in the professional arena, Brad has also been very active in non-profit organizations. He is the past president of the Greater Tallahassee Advertising Federation, and Big Bend Cares, (a non-profit organization that provides comprehensive support and education for those infected with or affected by HIV/AIDS). He has also volunteered for, or served on the boards of March of Dimes, Easter Seals, Children’s Miracle Network, Big Bend Hospice, Literacy Volunteers of America, and Americus-Sumter Arts Council, and he has served as a Guardian Ad Litem. Ray was a 2007 recipient of The President’s Call to Service Award, which is the highest honor bestowed by the White House for volunteer service.
In the photo, staff at Perry Wellness Center welcome Brad Ray to the informative session. From left:Candace Taylor, Elizabeth Moss, Laura Leigh Bell, Charlene Hayes, Jeff Williams, Brad Clark, Pam Perry, Chloe Milsapps, Amanda Perry, Ginny Smith, Phyllis Smith and Noah Cochran.