April is National Child Abuse Prevention Month
This month and throughout the year, Saratoga Center for the Family encourages all individuals and organizations to play a role in making our community a better place for children and families. By ensuring that parents have the knowledge, skills, and resources they need to care for their children, we can help prevent child abuse and neglect by creating strong and thriving children, youth, and families in our communities. Research shows that protective factors are present in healthy families. Protective factors are conditions or attributes of individuals, families, communities, or the larger society that mitigate risk and promote healthy development and wellbeing. Promoting the following protective factors is one of the most effective ways to reduce the risk of child abuse and neglect:
• Nurturing and attachment
• Knowledge of parenting and of child and youth development
• Parental resilience
• Social connections
• Concrete supports for parents
• Social and emotional competence of children
In support of these efforts, the Children's Bureau, within the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, in collaboration with its information service, Child Welfare Information Gateway, the Office on Child Abuse and Neglect, the FRIENDS National Center for Community-Based Child Abuse Prevention, and over 30 national prevention partners, has created the 2019/2020 Prevention Resource Guide: Strong and Thriving Families.
10 Things You Can Do to Prevent Child Abuse
- Volunteer your time. Get involved with other parents in your community. Help vulnerable children and their families. Start a playgroup.
- Discipline your children thoughtfully. Never discipline your child when you are 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-outs 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.
- Educate yourself and others. Simple support for children and parents can be the best way to prevent child abuse. After-school activities, parent education classes, mentoring programs, and respite care are some of the many ways to keep children safe from harm. Be a voice in support of these efforts in your community.
- Teach children their rights. When children are taught they have the right to be safe, they are less likely to think abuse is their fault, and more likely to report an offender.
- Support prevention programs. Too often, intervention occurs only after abuse is reported. Greater investments are needed in programs that have been proven to stop the abuse before it occurs – such as family counseling and home visits by nurses who provide assistance for newborns and their parents.
- Know what child abuse is. Physical and sexual abuse clearly constitute maltreatment, but so does neglect, or the failure of parents or other caregivers to provide a child with needed food, clothing, and care. Children can also be emotionally abused when they are rejected, berated, or continuously isolated.
- Know the signs. The following changes in children are not necessarily proof of abuse but should be considered red flags, prompting you to look further. These characteristics may also exist when a child is not abused. Some changes may include; unexplained injuries, depression, fear of a certain adult, difficulty trusting others or making friends, sudden changes in eating or sleeping patterns, inappropriate sexual behavior, poor hygiene, secrecy, and hostility.
- Report abuse. If you witness a child being harmed or see evidence of abuse, make a report to the NYS Central Registry at 1-800-342-3720 or local police. When talking to a child about abuse, listen carefully, assure the child that he or she did the right thing by telling an adult, and affirm that he or she is not responsible for what happened.
- Invest in kids. Encourage leaders in the community to be supportive of children and families. Ask employers to provide family-friendly work environments. Ask your local and national lawmakers to support legislation to better protect our children and to improve their lives.
BE AWARE of your child’s whereabouts and activities; know who your child is with at all times
SET TIME ASIDE each day to talk with your child, encouraging topics of concern.
DEMONSTRATE your ability to listen to any subject matter, without showing judgment.
HEAR what your child is saying. Don’t assume; ask for clarification. Disclosures are not always clearly stated.
RESPECT your child’s comfort level with physical contact and affection and insist that others do the same.
EDUCATE your child about “private parts”; Identify adults who can help with private parts of the body.
EMPOWER your child say “NO” to anyone who touches them in a hurting or confusing way.
PLAY “what if” games to practice what to do in a potential abuse situation.
ENCOURAGE your child to tell you if they are hurt or confused by a person’s touch, words, or actions.
BELIEVE your child when he/she reports being approached or abuse.
Did you know?
- A report of Child Abuse is made every 10 seconds
- Child abuse occurs at every socio-economic level, across ethnic and cultural lines, within all religion and at all levels of education
- Three million reports of child abuse are made a year, though it is believed that the actual number of incidents are 3 times as many
- Of the reported rapes of children under 12 years old, more than 90% of the victims knew the perpetrator
- Children ages 0-3 are the most likely to experience abuse. They are victimized at a rate of 16.4 per 1,000
- 52% of child maltreatment victims were girls and 48% were boys
- 67% of all reported sexual assaults happen to children age 17 and under
And If You Don’t Get Help:
- Long term effects of child abuse include fear, anxiety, depression, anger, hostility, inappropriate behavior, poor self esteem, tendency towards substance abuse and difficulty with close relationships
- One third of abused and neglected children will later abuse their own children, continuing the horrible cycle
- Children who have been sexually abused are 2.5 times more likely to abuse alcohol and almost 5 times more likely to become addicted to drugs
- Abused children are 25% more likely to experience teenage pregnancy
- Children who experience child abuse and neglect are 59% more likely to be arrested as a juvenile, 28% more likely to be arrested as an adult, and 30% more likely to commit violent crimes.
- Nearly 38% of all women in prison and just over 14% of all men in prison in the United States were abused as children.