April was Child Abuse Prevention Awareness Month, meant to bring attention to the thousands of children who experience abuse annually. No child deserves to suffer from child abuse, and there is no excuse for the perpetrators. .
Child abuse occurs at all ages, socioeconomic levels, races, and ethnicities. It can happen at anytime and anywhere, and is something that does not receive the attention it deserves.
It is important that children are members of a secure community where they will be free from the shackles of child abuse. “As a community, it is our responsibility to ensure that all children are healthy and safe, so that they can develop and reach their full potential.” said Dr. Jessica Huber, Special Assistance Program counselor, via email.
In the process of making of communities safer, proper public awareness and education on child abuse can make all the difference. “By promoting this month, it raises awareness that child abuse and neglect is public health problem, but it is also preventable. Through education and family support, we can be proactive in providing strategies for healthy parenting and strong families,” added Huber.
Child abuse also impacts victims now and in the future. It can make children feel unwanted or useless, and sabotage a child’s feeling of self worth. However, child abuse goes beyond just the child. Studies have shown that the mistreatment of children affects society in many ways, including increased crime in communities, increased juvenile and adult justice costs, and loss of worker productivity.
So what can be done to help children affected by child abuse? Do not be a bystander; instead reach out and help. Beware of warning signs and be someone a child can trust. Offering to reach out and help those affected by child abuse can resolve an issue before it escalates.
“The first thing that anyone can do to help someone in need is to take the time to listen to them, and then help them find support. If you suspect that someone is experiencing child abuse or neglect, tell a trusted adult if you are under 18. A trusted adult could be your parents, another adult family member, a teacher, a counselor, a coach, or any other adult in your life that is a good source of support,” wrote Huber.
Child abuse and neglect is a real and serious issue and is something that needs to be publicly addressed more often. One conversation can make all the difference. If you suspect any situation of child abuse, have an adult call the Child Protective Services Report Line at 919-212-7990.