Our View: Prevent child abuse
“There can be no keener revelation of a society’s soul than the way in which it treats its children.” — Nelson Mandela
Every child deserves to have a safe, loving upbringing. April is National Child Abuse Prevention Month, which highlights the importance of preventing child abuse and neglect and promotes the social and emotional well-being of children and families. Sponsored by the Children’s Bureau within the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, the theme for this year’s awareness month is “Building Community, Building Hope.”
The Children’s Bureau website (www.childwelfare.gov) contains a wealth of information for parents and caregivers on how they can protect children from the risk of abuse. The site covers a wide variety of useful topics, including specialized advice like bonding with your baby, getting support after adopting, being a teen parent and parenting after domestic violence.
While parents and guardians can be the first line of defense in preventing child abuse, communities can also create an atmosphere of nurturing and work to strengthen families. The Children’s Bureau offers suggestions for how communities can get involved in fostering the physical and emotional health of children:
• Meet and greet your neighbors.
• Participate in an activity at a local library or community center.
• Set up a playgroup in your community at people’s homes or local park. (Consider inviting people who may not have children at home, like local seniors.)
• Organize a community baby-sitting co-op.
• Volunteer at your child’s school through the school’s administration or parent-teacher organization.
• Encourage local children’s service providers to produce a directory of available services that are easy to find in the community.
• Organize a community event (a block party, father/daughter dance, parent support group).
• Attend local government meetings and let them know how important these resources are in your community. Let them know how parks, strong schools and accessible services help to strengthen your family and other families.
Recognizing the problem of child abuse is a great start, but in order to make a real difference we should all consider what we can do to help our community’s children grow up happy and healthy.