Since I am doing the April A to Z Challenge this year, I am sure some of you visiting are new here, which is fine as I always welcome new readers, but just a fair warning, I do talk about difficult subjects sometimes. This post is one of those posts. If you don’t want to read on, that is perfectly fine, but at the same time my goal with this blog is to bring awareness to health and difficult subjects.
You’re still here? Great! Thanks for sticking around and hopefully you can learn a little while you are here too.
April is Child Abuse Prevention Month, and you may be thinking “how can you prevent child abuse?” or “how much of a difference can I make?”, but you will be amazed just what you can do!
One of the most important aspects of preventing anything is to raise awareness. Many people don’t want to think about child abuse because it is such a difficult subject, but it does happen and we all need to be aware that it happens.
It is estimated that over 640,000 children are victims of child abuse, and over 1500 children die every year as a result of child abuse or neglect in 2014 alone.
The idea behind Child Abuse Prevention Month is to get communities and families involved to help prevent and recognise child abuse. It is thought that with the proper community support many instances of child abuse can be prevented. Giving families activities outside of home can help children release pent up energy, helping them be more calm and relaxed for parents, helping parents be less stressed and yell and spank less often. Many times when children have pent up energy, parents become frustrated and yelling escalates to child abuse.
What can you do to prevent child abuse?
While awareness and education is very important, you can do many things within your own family and even in your community to help children who may be victims.
Within your family:
- Take time to play with your children every day. Try to spend at least 15 minutes every day playing with your child, doing what she wants. There have been studies that show when parents play with their children they are less likely to use physical discipline.
- Tell the children in your life how much you love and appreciate them. Every child deserves to know how much they mean to another person. This helps them to realize that they deserve better and if you are talking to a child who is abused, it may help her to reach out for help because she will realize that she is important.
- Talk to older children about abuse and what is OK and what is not OK. This may help your child recognize a friend who is being abused and help their friend get help.
Within your community
- Compliment a mother or father on the job they are doing. Parenting is stressful, and kids misbehave, but if you see a mom or dad keeping their cool while their child is acting out, give them some words of encouragement. Something as simple as “I know what you are going through and it will get better, you are doing a great job” can make a big difference in how a parent handles a situation.
- Offer to babysit. Every parent needs a break sometimes and just giving them one night off can help them recharge and be better prepared to handle the challenges of parenting appropriately.
- Mentor a young mother and father. Studies have shown that younger parents are more likely to abuse their children. While this is not always the case, helping younger parents learn how to deal with misbehaving children can make a difference in how they react.
- Help parents looking for a job if you can. Financial instability is another common reason for parents to abuse their children. If you know of a place that is hiring, you can help out by directing the parents to that company or putting in a good word for the couple. If you don’t know of a company that is hiring, you can always help with resume writing or just by watching the children while the parents look for a job.
- Create a safe place for children to play and make sure you know your neighbors. This will help create a space where children in the community can feel safe.
- You cannot always prevent child abuse, but if you suspect a child is being abused, call your local child abuse hotline. If you are at all suspicious, it is more important to have it checked out than to wait until it is too late.
There are some groups of individuals who are mandated reports, myself included. For example, it a nurse, doctor, teacher, social worker, or therapist suspects child abuse, they must report it to the proper authorities. If the claim is found to be false, there is not punishment, unless it is found that you are purposely making false claims, so don’t be afraid to report potential child abuse.
The key to prevention is education and awareness. Educating parents about resources and community support will help them deal with their anger, while community awareness will help those within the community recognise and hopefully prevent, or at least report, child abuse.
Are there any resources in your community for parents? Do you know how to recognise child abuse? Do you know how to report child abuse in your area?
(You can check out the rest of my posts for the A to Z Challenge if you want.)