Craig Johnson, attorney who served as Coffee County Circuit Court judge for 23 years, urges the community to learn about the harmful impact of child abuse on individuals and on society. Johnson encourages community members to learn the red flags and to prevent child abuse.
“Being a private attorney, and the last 23 years serving as judge, I have come across a lot of cases of abuse, particularly criminal cases where a parent or another adult is charged with abusing a child, whether it be physically, emotionally or sexually,” Johnson said. “As a judge, I’ve tried many domestic relations cases when sometimes abuse is involved, and also parental rights termination cases, either appealed from juvenile court or filed originally in circuit court, where either the state, the Department of Children’s Services, or a private individual is asking the court system and the judge to terminate a parent’s rights because of either abuse or abandonment.”
The impact of abuse goes beyond the affected family – child abuse affects the society.
“Individually, obviously, every time a child is abused, their mental faculties, their mental health and their personality are affected, usually, for the rest of their life because they have harmful images and history embedded in their mind about what normal is, about how you treat other human beings, and about how you get your way. And all of those things have a harmful effect on children because they are just children, and whenever something like that happens to a child, it creates a bad situation and a bad future.”
Community members can prevent child abuse by learning the red flags and responding appropriately when they suspect child abuse.
“It’s important to raise awareness,” Johnson said. “We all need to be vigilant when we interact in our society about seeing the warning signs for abuse, whether it’s through children or whether it’s through how adults treat children. If we are all aware of things that can trigger or be signs of abuse, we can be better prepared to report and take action to stop it. Obviously, our society suffers because children are our future; they are tasked with providing for the wellbeing of humankind for the rest of their lives, and they pass on what’s normal and how you treat other people to their children. If they are brought up in an atmosphere of abuse, that tends to create future abuse. The more we make people understand how that creates a negative attitude or a negative personality in children, the better off our future will be and the better off their future will be.”
Visit www.coffeecountycac.org for more information and to learn how you can prevent child abuse.