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Letter from the Secretary
THE SECRETARY OF HEALTH AND HUMAN SERVICES
Washington, D.C. 20201
March 27, 2003
I am pleased to have this opportunity to welcome you to the 14th National Conference on Child Abuse and Neglect. I want to express my appreciation to each of you for your work on behalf of children and families.
No issues cries out for a more immediate and all encompassing response than ensuring the safety and well-being of our children—our hope for the future. We have learned that the effects of child abuse and neglect are pervasive, with enormous long-term consequences. Our nation is reaping a societal whirlwind because of many of the results of child abuse and neglect are social in nature—violence, delinquency, drug addiction, alcohol abuse, and criminal behavior. Those who work on the frontlines of this issue need our help in establishing a climate where people take responsibility for protecting all children. Federal programs alone are not enough to conquer this problem. The involvement and partnership of concerned individuals like you are pivotal in what is often a life or death struggle for at-risk children.
The theme of this conference "Gateways to Prevention" recognizes that prevention remains the best defense for our children. The intent of this Administration's prevention initiative is to dedicate resources to prevent the need for intervention services. Each of us must accept personal responsibility to help remove the horrible specter of child abuse from the lives of children. I believe that by combining our efforts—social service professionals, health care providers, educators, law enforcement and judicial representatives- we can make a difference in the well-being of children in danger of being abused or neglected.
Child abuse prevention requires partnerships among Federal, State, and local governments, faith-based and community-based organizations, schools, law enforcement, and social service agencies. All of these organizations must work together with parents to protect children and help build healthy families and communities where children can reach their potential.
I am pleased that you have come here to St. Louis, during this month of heightened awareness of the need for prevention of child abuse, to devote your time and interest to this worthy cause. I want to thank you again for your dedication to the needs of our nation's vulnerable children. I wish you a most productive conference and look forward to hearing about the outcomes of this important event.
Tommy G. Thompson