Preventing Child Abuse

Child abuse is a preventable problem. The importance of providing a safe environment should be the utmost concern of every adult. Just as it takes a village to raise a child, it takes participation from everyone in a society to stem the tide of child abuse. Prevention of child abuse is something every citizen can take part in.

How can I help prevent child abuse?

Stressed out parentVolunteer your time with a local child abuse or children’s rights organization. Get involved with other parents in your community and work to help children and families in need. Volunteer for after school activities or mentoring programs that help keep children safe. If programs such as this do not exist in your community, be a voice in support of these initiatives. Ask employers to provide family-friendly work environments and ask your local lawmakers to support legislation to better protect our children.

Be thoughtful when you discipline your children. Never discipline a child when you are upset. We all have tempers that flare at times and children can certainly stir those emotions. Give yourself time to calm down before disciplining a child. Try not to use corporal punishment but instead use privileges to encourage good behavior and “time outs” to punish for bad behavior. Demonstrate good behavior through your own actions. Show the child that conflicts can be resolved without yelling or physical force.

Take a close look at your own behavior. Child abuse does not equate to physical abuse. Words and actions can inflict deep, long lasting psychological wounds.

Educate yourself and others. Learn to recognize child abuse and what prevention methods are available. 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. Teach children what their rights are, that they have a right to be safe from physical or emotional harm, and that it’s OK to report an offender (no matter who they are).

Report child abuse when you see it. If you witness a child being harmed or see evidence of abuse, or if a child tells you about abuse, make a report to your state’s child protective services department or local police.

I’m a new parent, what can I do?

A new baby can accompany one of the most stressful times in a person’s life. Baby’s cry and require near constant attention. This can be frustrating for new parents. All parents have experienced a long “crying bout” with a new baby and the temptation to grab and shake the baby is strong. Don’t let yourself get to this point. Plan ahead now.

Sleep when you can. Feeding and caring for the baby are the top priorities and right after that should be sleep for the parent. A parent who is healthy and relatively rested will be a better parent.

Arrange for some time away from the baby if possible. This is often hard for new parents but is sometimes required to keep the new parent’s sanity in check. Hire a babysitter or call on helpful relatives.

If you do become frustrated, put the baby in her crib. Make sure she is safe and without leaving the house, move away from the screaming. Take a shower or play soothing music to settle your nerves.

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