During the Jena Six controversy, people from across the country joined together for a common cause-to question whether racism was really “dead” and to evaluate the fairness of our justice system.

Whether they were a part of the thousands who traveled to the small Louisiana town of Jena to show their support in person and advocate for the six young men involved in the case or not, many people, for the first time in a while, were not apathetic. Impressively, people wanted to get involved to ensure fair justice, and were collectively concerned about the lives and futures of these young men.

We should be just as concerned with the more than 500,000 children who are currently in the child welfare system as a result of abuse and or neglect-over 30 percent of whom are African-American. Not only should we be concerned, we should be moved to act, get involved and help make a difference.

No one wants to see or hear the stories of families being torn apart, lives disrupted or futures cut short as a result of abuse and neglect. But somewhere in between our outrage and action, we often lose sight of the goals we need to accomplish for our children. If we don’t act, we let these young lives fall victim to our own apathy, calling it “their problem” or simply not acknowledging the growing crisis in our community. Our thinking says that by not addressing the issue it will not affect us. However, the exact opposite rings true.

As a concerned adult and child advocate, I ask that you take time to absorb the reality and consider a workable solution to this issue. According to FightCrime.org, the statistics facing abused and neglected children are sobering.

Nearly one-third of abused and neglected children are more likely to be arrested for violent crimes later in life.

Programs targeted to adults that address parenting skills, substance abuse and mental illnesses have proven effective with families. Yet many of the most high-risk families are not receiving these needed services.

Prevent Child Abuse America offers research showing that child abuse costs taxpayers at least $94 billion per year.

Total spending was $20 billion in 2000 by the federal, state and local governments on child welfare payments for foster care and services that cover adoption, child protection, and treatment for children and families. Addressing abuse and neglect among children begins to solve the problem.

The costs of inaction and not serving our children are too great to let this opportunity slip away. It is time that our community gives our children what they all deserve-a chance at stability and an opportunity for a better future.

For more information, call CASA at 888/805-8457 or visit the National CASA Association online at www.nationalcasa.org/aao.