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Office of the Press Secretary

For Immediate Release April 1, 1997




We live in a Nation blessed with liberty and prosperity. Yet, many of our children still suffer the horrors of child abuse and neglect, knowing no happiness, and sometimes even losing their lives. And, it is a problem that grows worse. Last year, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services reported that an estimated 3 million American children were abused or neglected, twice as many as 5 years earlier. Almost half a million of our children were seriously injured because of this mistreatment, quadruple the number from the previous report. Tragically, more than 1,100 abused children died last year -- an incomprehensible 80 percent of them at the hands of their own parents. We must not let this senseless suffering continue.

My Administration is continuing its efforts to make our children safer. Already, we have developed new family-based prevention services to work with families at risk, and we have said to those who would prey on our children in public housing that one conviction for drug dealing or a violent crime will result in expulsion from public housing. We are working to establish a national registry for sexual predators, and we have preserved the Federal investment in child protective services so States have the resources to help children in danger. We have taken guns off the street by banning 19 deadly assault weapons, and we are putting 100,000 more police officers on the streets to patrol our neighborhoods. And my Administration has developed a plan that aims, by the year 2002, to double the number of children placed in adoption or permanent placements from the public foster care system.

During this month of April, we pause to recognize and praise the work of those parents and other caretakers who see that the physical, mental, emotional, educational, and medical needs of our children are adequately met. I commend the efforts of the dedicated and compassionate men and women who assist families in crisis and enable these families to prevent child abuse. Without the commitment, knowledge, and skill of these men and women, many more children would find themselves the victims of abuse and the lives of many children who are abused and neglected would never improve. With their involvement, the lives of our most vulnerable children are immeasurably enriched. This month reminds us that every child is entitled to live his or her life to its fullest, free from fear and want. As Thomas Jefferson stated so eloquently, "The Giver of life gave it for happiness and not for wretchedness." We hold our children's future in trust. Let us not fail them.

NOW, THEREFORE, I, WILLIAM J. CLINTON, President of the United States of America, by virtue of the authority vested in me by the Constitution and laws of the United States, do hereby proclaim April 1997 as National Child Abuse Prevention Month. I call upon all Americans to observe this month by demonstrating our respect and gratitude for those who devotedly and unselfishly work to keep children safe, by learning how we can help keep children from harm's way, and by taking responsible actions to protect our precious children.

IN WITNESS WHEREOF, I have hereunto set my hand this first day of April, in the year of our Lord nineteen hundred and ninety-seven, and of the Independence of the United States of America the two hundred and twenty-first.


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