Thursday, April 28, 2011

Protect Our Children!

April has nearly slipped passed me without a post about Child Abuse.  April is Child Abuse Awareness Month, and since this topic is very near and dear to my heart as I have worked with countless victims of abuse, I want my readers to know that child abuse, whether physical, sexual, verbal or emotional, is very widespread in our communities.  Without support, these children are left feeling alone, different and angry.  They may act out in self-destructive or violent ways, even into adulthood.  

If you suspect a child is being abused in anyway, it is important that you contact authorities.  You do not have to tell them your name.  Unfortunately, there are many times that child investigators are called out and they do not find enough evidence of abuse (especially if it is just verbal or emotional), even though it does exist.  Or maybe the findings don't warrant removal from the home.  That child is left abandoned by the system.  You may be left feeling helpless.

However, there are things you can do for this child.  If you are in the position to do so (i.e. your child is friends with this child, it is a neighbor child, you are a teacher or volunteer), make sure you develop a relationship with the child.  If you can do this in a social setting such as the school or clubs, that is great.  If you are a neighbor parent, make sure it is okay with the child's parents for them to play at your house.  Foster a sense of self-worth in the child.  Let the child know that they are special to you.  Maintain contact with the child.  Take interest in the child's school and other activities.  Offer to help the child develop skills.  This could be as simple as helping them learn to read, bake, make crafts, play a sport.  Send the child an occasional note in the mail.  Encourage the child to participate in clubs and sports.  By doing these things, the child knows someone cares about them and this alone can make all the difference.  Remember, the child may be drowning in the ocean and you could be their life ring.

Also, if you can, try to establish a relationship with the parent.  Parenting is hard.  Sometimes, a little support can go a long way.  Some parents haven't acquired proper parenting skills as they were abuse victims themselves and good parenting skills were never modeled for them.  Having someone lend them a hand and model good parenting skills can really make a difference.  Just make sure you don't go in with a know-it-all attitude.  Simple statements like, "It must be really hard working and being a single parent.  Is there anything I can do to help?"  "We really like Sam and love having him come over.  Is that okay with you?"  Or call with, "I just made lasagna and we can't possibly eat it all.  Would it be okay if we run some over to you?"  Simple statements that offer support can be very important.  Also, focus on the positives you see, "Sarah is an excellent reader.  You must have worked a lot to help her."  "Tom always uses his manners when playing with my son.  You have done an excellent job of teaching him!"

However,iIf you continue to see evidence of abuse, even after authorities are called, KEEP CALLING BACK!  The child is unable to protect him/herself and needs you to keep trying!

****To protect yourself, NEVER be alone with the child no matter what.  Always make sure doors are open and others are around.  This way, no one can make allegations that you harmed the child.

1 comment:

Ruthi aka abitosunshine said...

Ann, I commend you for a fantastic positive commentary on child abuse awareness and prevention. Thank you for being a voice for the children.

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