April is National Child Abuse Prevention Month and Chrysalis House, Inc. would love to shine a light on this topic too often left in the dark.
Of course, children with abuse and neglect histories are enfolded within many of the families that this agency helps to build. But, helping families build positive, healthy relationships is a major part of the prevention of child abuse ~ and is also at the core of all the good work we do at CHI. As always, CHI continues the offer of our free support group(s), and are always on the ready for referrals to trainings or counseling that can promote healthy growth within our parents. It is our hope that families always feel comfortable in reaching out to CHI workers for advice, referrals and support.
As individuals, YOU, can also make a big difference in child abuse prevention, year-round, through small acts ~ because a cause is only as strong as the people who support it. Here are ways the typical CHI family can help:
Here is a list of simple efforts that can have a positive effect on the well-being and healthy development of children, families and communities. Remind yourself of things you can do in April, and throughout the year, to prevent child abuse and neglect!
As a parent: Talk openly with your child.
- Teach your child that it is your job to protect him.
- Teach your child that it is not her responsibility to protect others.
- Demonstrate daily that you will not be angry, no matter what your child tells you about any aspect of his life.
- Listen quietly. Children have a hard time telling parents about troubling events.
- Teach your child about her body, about what abuse is and, as age-appropriate, about sex. Teach her words that help her discuss sex comfortably with you.
- Teach your child that it is against the “rules” for adults to act in a sexual way with children and use examples.
- Block out 15 minutes a day to play one-on-one with your child — doing anything he or she wants. We know from studies that the more parents engage in positive activities with their children, the less they use negative physical and psychological discipline.
- Tell the children or youth in your life how much you care for them and appreciate them. All children deserve to have someone who is “crazy about them” and loves them unconditionally.
- Discipline your child thoughtfully. Never discipline your child when you are very upset. Give yourself time to calm down. Remember that discipline is a way to teach your child. Use privileges to encourage good behavior and time-out to help your child regain control.
- Examine your behavior. Abuse is not just physical. Both words and actions can inflict deep, lasting wounds. Be a nurturing parent. Use your actions to show children and other adults that conflicts can be settled without hitting or yelling
As a concerned person:
- Consider placing Pinwheels for Prevention. Throughout April, honor this mission with a pinwheel. By its very nature, the pinwheel connotes whimsy and childlike notions. In essence, it has come to serve as the physical symbol, or reminder, of the great childhoods we want for all children.
- Learn the facts and understand the risks about child abuse:
- 1 in 4 girls and 1 in 6 boys will have been sexually abused by their eighteenth birthday.
- Only 1 in 10 children reports the abuse themselves. Those children who keep the abuse a secret or who tell and are not believed are far more likely to suffer psychological, emotional, social, and/or physical problems that will most likely follow them into adulthood.
- 22% of abused children are under 8 years old.
- The average age of abused children is 9.
For friends and neighbors:
- Compliment a parent — someone you know or even someone in public — on something positive you see them do with their children. Each parent contributes uniquely to children’s development.
- Offer your time to baby-sit for the child of a friend, neighbor or family member. All parents need help sometimes — even if it is just to rest or “recharge” for an hour or two.
- Introduce yourself to your neighbors. Caring and connected neighborhoods can be powerful in reducing neighborhood violence and supporting struggling parents.
For your community:
- If you are an employer enacting policies that impact the work-life balance, remember we all have an effect on the lives of children. Aim to positively impact work life balance by taking positive steps toward advocating that change.
- Do volunteer work for a youth- or family- serving organization in your community. Some families just need a little help from time to time, and community organizations are designed to do just that.
- Take action on legislative issues that affect children and families. Call your elected representatives, join demonstrations and be sure always to vote to show that you support services to help families raise healthy children.
- Create a “Safe Children Zone” in your neighborhood. Host a community meeting with your neighbors to talk about what each of you can do to help create a sense of safety for the children in your neighborhood.
- Ask yours or another faith-based organization in your community about donations — even small ones — that can be made to support families in need. Some families need help providing for their children’s basic needs. Your church community may also benefit from the opportunity to better understand HOW they can prevent child abuse. Consider preparing a presentation.
By knowing more, we can all do more. It truly takes a village to build a strong community. If you have reason to believe a child may be at risk of harm in their home, call your local child abuse hotline.