To create awareness during April, National Child Abuse Prevention Month, Amigos For Kids, a nonprofit organization dedicated to preventing child abuse and neglect by strengthening families and educating communities, is launching a new nationwide campaign titled “Victims.” The goal of the campaign is to help raise awareness of the impact child abuse and neglect can have on children and their communities.
Victims reintroduces notorious serial killers in a less familiar way — as the innocent children they once were. According to FBI veteran and author Robert Ressler, the kind of evilness serial killers exhibit does not happen overnight; their murderous behavior is a direct result of the prolonged child abuse they experienced.
Psychological, physical, and emotional trauma are some of the most commonly known effects of child abuse and neglect. And too often, a corrosive legacy follows. Research shows that child abuse is known to repeat itself across generations. In fact, one out of three child abuse victims will become abusers themselves.
Along with the headline, “Some victims of child abuse wind up with victims of their own,” the hard-hitting campaign shows childhood photos of the murderous cult leader Charles Manson, serial killer and sex worker Eileen Wuornos, and the notorious “Night Stalker,” Richard Ramirez. Each was a victim of horrific child abuse and neglect — a victim of the cycle that Amigos For Kids intends to stop.
Amigos For Kids understands that aiding victims captured in a cycle of abuse is not enough. To truly help stop the cycle, Amigos For Kids aims to get to the root of the problem by raising awareness of the importance of strengthening families and educating communities to help prevent child abuse.
“It is our organization’s core belief that the cycle of abuse can only be broken when the silence ends, and we all have a role to play in building strong communities to help stop the cycle,” said Karina Pavone, executive director of Amigos For Kids. “Historically, the relationship between serial killers and childhood abuse has garnered lots of attention from the media and the public, yet child abuse continues to be an epidemic with lifelong and intergenerational ramifications,” she added.
Child abuse statistics in the U.S. are among the worst in industrialized nations. Pre-COVID-19 statistics show that an average of 6.6 million child abuse cases are reported to child protection agencies every year. In the U.S. alone, between four and five children lose their lives to child abuse and neglect every day.
Heightened stress, school closures, loss of income, and social isolation generated by the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020 increased the risk of child abuse and neglect. While the total number of emergency service visits related to child abuse and neglect decreased, the percentage of such visits resulting in hospitalization increased in 2020 (vs. 2019). Authorities fear that due to the pandemic, child abuse victims might not be seeking the help and proper care they undoubtedly need.
The Victims campaign launched on multiple platforms including digital and print media that targeted states where child abuse has reached an all-time high. Coincidentally, half of the featured serial killers were caught in targeted states, including California and Florida.
The campaign was created by Republica Havas, the pro bono agency of record for Amigos For Kids.