Child Abuse Prevention: Actions You Can Take
April 3, 2018
Since 1983, April has been recognized as Child Abuse Prevention Month. According to the American Society for the Positive Care of Children, five children in the United States die from child abuse or neglect each day and 75 percent of those deaths are children under the age of three. Eighty percent of the fatalities involve at least one parent. We need to come together and acknowledge the responsibility we have to protect our most vulnerable population, our children.
Although the facts about child abuse are dismal, there is hope. Over the last decade, the Center for the Study of Social Policy developed Strengthening Families. Strengthening Families is a research-informed approach to increase family strengths, enhance child development and reduce the likelihood of child abuse and neglect. It is based on engaging families, programs and communities in building five protective factors:
- Parental resilience: Managing stress and functioning well when faced with challenges, adversity and trauma.
- Social connections: Positive relationships that provide emotional, informational, instrumental and spiritual support.
- Knowledge of parenting and child development: Understanding child development and parenting strategies that support physical, cognitive, language, social and emotional development.
- Concrete support in times of need: Access to concrete support and services that address a family’s needs and help minimize stress caused by challenges.
- Social and emotional competence of children: Family and child interactions that help children develop the ability to communicate clearly, recognize and regulate their emotions and establish and maintain relationships.
Individuals can do small things every day to protect children and strengthen families. Here are some ways to provide support and contribute to the safety of the children in our lives:
- Help each other value, build, sustain and use social connections by reaching out to those parents and children who may be hurting or may be completely isolated. Problems often seem less overwhelming when you have support nearby.
- Reach out to families and kids in your neighborhood or in your child’s school and build up a village of families who support each other in an open, supportive environment.
- Provide encouragement and support to families who may be struggling. A kind word or gesture can go a long way in increasing resilience.
- Share information with other parents about community resources and supports for families that can be found in schools, healthcare clinics, social service agencies, or community- or faith-based organizations.
- Provide information and resources on parenting and child development when appropriate.
- Respond immediately when you observe families are in crisis. Don’t sit back and wonder. Don’t wait and see. If you have concerns about a family or a child please call your local Child Protection Services (In Ohio: 1-855 O-H-CHILD (855-642-4453), or in Kentucky: 1-877-KYSAFE1 (877-597-2331).
Although April is Child Abuse Prevention Month and a special time set aside for raising awareness about abuse, we know that protecting all children is a 365-day-a-year mission. We all have a role to play in building strong communities in which families and children are valued and supported. It is in these kinds of communities that children are safest from abuse and neglect.
This article was written for the April 2018 edition of Parent Source.