Every child deserves a Bright Tomorrow

By Dave Bowen

When I was in the first grade at Hibbard Elementary School near Rexburg, Idaho I was a shy, quiet boy who rarely got into trouble and always did what I was told. Ok….This was not supposed to be a fantasy piece so let’s back up a bit. I always TRIED to do what I was told. I was excited to be in school and was learning about, among other things, the social dynamic that ruled the school. With the first snow came the usual snowmen and snowball fights. As I went out to the playground one day, I noticed that my cousin was in a scuffle. He was 3 years older than me and some of his friends were introducing his face to the newly fallen snow. Being the kind of person that sometimes jumps before thinking, I decided to “rescue” him. I began throwing snowballs at them to get them to stop, which they did. That was the day I learned about that social dynamic I mentioned earlier, “The big kids are in charge, don’t make them mad.” They immediately turned on me, and my face got the same introduction to the snow that my cousin had “enjoyed”. They weren’t gentle about it either and it hurt enough that I cried. No one came to my aid so there I was, lying in the snow, my face red and cold with no help in sight.

Although I am older now, I still have the same propensity to run to the aid of those in trouble. The difference now is that I am smart enough to ask for help when I do.

That brings me to the subject of my article. SOMEONE NEEDS OUR HELP.

Statistics are: 1 in 10 children will be sexually abused before their 18th birthday. In Pocatello, Idaho, 243 children were interviewed at Bright Tomorrows in 2013 due to possible abuse. 135 children received abuse specific counseling. 86% of children completing counseling at Bright Tomorrows showed significant improvement in their daily functioning.

These are statistics that none of us want to think about but the simple fact is that if one of my children or grandchildren end up being part of this “statistic”, I would want to have the assistance of someone like the wonderfully trained  and dedicated professionals at Bright Tomorrows.

Some of you may not be familiar with Bright Tomorrows. They are a child advocacy center designed to provide initial crisis services and counseling to help abused children and their families heal from the effects of child abuse. It is a warm and friendly atmosphere that reminds me more of home than an office. The dedicated staff at Bright Tomorrows are committed to help bring hope to an otherwise hopeless situation.

Another frightening statistic is that many of the child victims who don’t get help will act out in ways that are destructive to themselves, their family, and our community. Because of this, it is critical that we support outstanding organizations like Bright Tomorrows. If  WE don’t help these children get the help they desperately need, we will likely pay a higher price later as a community. The old adage of, “An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure” comes to mind.

Please join my wife Cindy and I and many local businesses and support the Bright Tomorrows program. There will be no “Ice bucket challenge” or “viral videos” to move this forward. Only a heartfelt plea from parents and grandparents who know how amazing it feels to become involved in this very worthy cause.

It is very simple, we can either be pro-active and reach out to these hurting children and families now, or we can be re-active and deal with larger, more complicated problems in the future.

Please join us for a FREE Concert on 16 October at Mystique Theater starting at 6:00 pm.   There will be live music by Mike Sanders, Dean Adair, and Melissa Nielsen along with lots of  fun, and an opportunity to donate to a “Bright Tomorrow” for children and families in need of healing.

I healed on my own from having my face washed with snow. I sincerely hope others never have to learn how difficult it is to heal from the effects of child abuse, but if you do, please remember the healing begins at Bright Tomorrows.

Dave Bowen is a hospice chaplain, brick mason and candidate for Bannock County clerk.