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Child abuse is unforgivable

Child abuse is something that we all shudder and don’t like to think about. But it’s also an issue we cannot, as a society, ignore.

April is Child Abuse Prevention Month and the numbers are staggering.

According to the organization Child Help, a report of child abuse is made every 10 seconds in the United States.

State agencies found an estimated 702,000 victims of child maltreatment in 2014.

The United States loses on average between four and seven children every day to child abuse and neglect.

Powerful as they are, these are just numbers.

Sometimes it takes a jolt to realize that these are real children living among us.

I personally felt recently just what all those numbers mean when people close to me were faced with the unthinkable act of child abuse.

I learned from my sister-in-law that the great-nephew of her sister had been severely injured and rushed to a Mobile, Alabama, hospital with what were believed to be life-threatening injuries. I know this family very well. We’ve had cookouts and holidays together, and this 3-year-old child was suddenly fighting for his life.

The boy spent the weekend at his father’s home, and the father claimed the child fell down a flight of stairs. However, hospital officials said the boy’s wounds were not consistent with a fall down stairs and notified authorities, who took the father into custody on felony child abuse charges, where he remains.

The plight of the young boy soon spread throughout social media, creating a wealth of prayers for the child, as well as a Facebook page to keep track of his status. Folks wanted to know what they could do and rallied with a gofundme account to help offset medical expenses for the child. Businesses on the Mississippi coast began offering portions of their proceeds to assist his recovery. The community gathered at a Gulfport Methodist church for a prayer vigil.

Zander Saucier, known to many as Zan-Man — including his uncle and Ole Miss graduate Jimmy Spears — captivated the Mississippi coast.

For a couple days the progress was slow as doctors repaired a collapsed lung and damaged spleen, trying to stabilize Zander. He finally turned a corner after four days in the hospital. His progress from being on a ventilator to riding a tricycle around the hospital was nothing short of miraculous.

After a week of being in the hospital, Zander finally was able to return to his Gulfport home.

His road to full recovery is still ahead of him. Doctors expect his physical scars to heal. His family, friends and even those he’s never met pray his mental wounds will heal as well.

To me, child abuse is the most atrocious crime that can be committed. One, in my opinion, that is unforgivable. But it happens and it is time we as human beings no longer hide it in the shadows of society and make a commitment that our children are the most valuable possession we have.

If you know of child abuse or suspect child abuse, do something about it. Notify law enforcement or call the National Child Abuse Hotline at 1-800-4-A-Child.

And, know this, Zan-Man: you brought together thousands of people and we will continue to pray for your full recovery and that life will get back to normal for your family.

Rob Sigler is managing editor of The Oxford EAGLE. Contact him at rob.sigler@oxfordeagle.com.