It is your problem too

April 4, 2008 — Leave a comment

little girl cryingWhen you think about your childhood, what kinds of images come to mind? Think about it for a moment.

For some, the images may include riding bicycles, fishing with a grandparent, helping mom in the kitchen, or bringing home a new sibling — or a pet.

Others may recall sad or troubling images, ones that still bring strong feelings of fear, loneliness, and pain. In fact, those recollections may leave the person feeling like they really are a child all over again. Still others may have very few — or very disconnected — memories of childhood. For many who have suffered abuse as a child, this inability to recall details may be evidence of a special kind of grace. Perhaps the details are just too painful to revisit.

This is the case for many children in our society — far too many.

April is National Child Abuse Prevention month. As a counselor who has done a significant amount of work with children and families, both in clinical, ministry, and residential settings, I can attest to not only the prevalence of child abuse but also to its far-reaching effects on families and communities.

I will not bore you with statistics, although they are disturbing. However, I will encourage you to take seriously the problem of child abuse.

Here are ten ways you can make a difference:

  1. Know the signs of abuse. 
  2. Don’t buy into the “it’s none of my business” philosophy. There’s no telling how many children have died because someone didn’t want to get involved. Know your state’s child abuse hotline, and don’t be afraid to use it.
  3. Talk with your children about stranger danger.
  4. Build an open, honest, and trusting relationship with your children so they will feel more comfortable coming to you with details of abuse (of themselves or their friends).
  5. Encourage your church or civic groups to take seriously the problem of child abuse and to be proactive in the area of protection. This may include revisiting policies, procedures, and security protocol.
  6. Talk openly with your children about any abuse that plays out on TV or in movies. While you may need to limit your children’s exposure to media, such shows can provide a window of opportunity for teachable moments and honest discussion.
  7. Get to know your children’s friends — and their families. Remember that abuse does not always happen at the hands of adults.
  8. Trust your instincts as a parent. If you feel that some kind of abuse may be going on, listen intently to the child and take appropriate action. However, don’t put you and your family in harm’s way. Sometimes it is necessary to involve the police or protective services early on.
  9. Volunteer at your local Children’s Advocacy Center, a children’s home, or similar organization.
  10. Know your neighbors. Regularly check the list of registered sex offenders in your area. 

We can make a difference. . . one child at a time.

For more information on the definition and signs of abuse, click here. If you have questions about child abuse or need further information, please do not hesitate to contact me.

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