This is the moment you’ve been waiting for. We are going to talk about how YOU can prevent the neglect and physical abuse of children! Brace yourself for this, because it’s so easy it’ll blow your mind.
A huge factor in neglect and physical abuse is stress. Financial, health, and emotional issues are just a few things that can cause this stress. When parents are stressed out, they are much more likely to abuse or neglect their children. Thus, if we help families reduce this stress, child abuse can be prevented!
Prevent Child Abuse America has a few easy ideas on how to help reduce stress in families with kids:
- Be a friend to a parents in your community. Listen to them and support them in their struggles.
- If a parent you know seems overwhelmed, offer to babysit so they can have a break.
- Be a friend to a child. Ask them about their day and encourage them.
- Donate unneeded clothing, furniture, or toys to families in your neighborhood that might need them.
- Be kind to parents when their children throw tantrums in public places.
- Watch out for the children in your neighborhood. If you see a child get hurt, go help them. If you see a child doing something unsafe, go stop them.
Another way to prevent child abuse is to know and pay attention to the signs of child abuse. Listen to your gut feeling. If you suspect abuse, do not hesitate to call the National Child Abuse Hotline. Don’t worry about being wrong–the most important thing is making sure children are safe. Child protective service workers are often perceived as cruel people who tear children from the arms of their parents at every chance they get, and this can scare people away from making reports. This perception about CPS is incorrect. The government could never afford to do that anyway. Removal only occurs when the child is in immediate danger or the parents are in police custody. When a report is made, CPS workers go into the home to investigate the situation. If they find no evidence of abuse, it’s not a big deal. If issues are identified, the worker then helps the family resolve these issues in various ways (taking classes, cleaning up the house, etc.). Essentially, if you have honest concerns about a child, there is absolutely no harm in reporting.
Last of all, it is so important to simply know about resources in your area that help prevent child abuse. Not long ago, in a community near where I live, it was made known that several trees were to be cut down from Main Street. The LDS Church had requested the removal of these trees, and the city granted it since the young trees were sick. In cutting the sick ones down, the healthy 80-year-old trees would have more room to thrive. This made sense to me, but there was an outcry from some of the citizens of that city. Although there was nothing underhanded about the removal of the trees, people were upset that this was happening. People signed petitions and attended a city council meeting to voice their disapproval in the removal of these sick trees. In a news interview, one woman said something to the effect of, “We teach our children to save the environment, but then we cut down these trees! It’s so sad to cut down something living!”
When I heard about this, I couldn’t help but shake my head in disbelief that 6 trees had caused such a big stir in that community. A few months prior, a 30-year-old program at my agency was cut. This child abuse prevention program had helped hundreds and hundreds of families throughout the years. My agency is a private non-profit agency, and thus this program had been funded by grants from the government. When the grant was unexpectedly discontinued, the tried and true program screeched to a halt. It was devastating to those of us who knew what an important program it was for the community. However, unlike the trees, this program was felled silently. There was no public outcry. To my knowledge, there were no petitions. It didn’t appear in the ten-o-clock news. The program just quietly ceased.
The contrast between these two incidents is sad to me. I don’t think any community really values its trees more than its families and children. But it’s funny which of the two got the most attention. Honestly, I think my community didn’t notice the program’s disappearance because it didn’t know the program even existed. Many communities simply do not know about the jewels nestled in their midst.
In order to keep child abuse prevention resources in the community, the community needs to be aware of these resources. Even if you don’t directly use these resources in your community, know about them. Support these resources. Recommend these resources to families that do need them.
There you have it. Preventing neglect and physical abuse is easy. Find ways to reduce stress in families with kids, report suspected abuse, and be aware of and support the resources in your community.