“On average, a child abuse report is made every 10 seconds for a total of approximately 3.3 million child abuse reports annually.” ChildHelp.org
Woah. Those are depressing statistics. It’s crazy and disheartening how common child abuse is. But good news! There are little, simple things you and I can do each day to lower the statistics and work towards preventing child abuse!
So how do we prevent child abuse?
Here are some simple small things we can do.
8 Ways You and I Can Help
- Learn the facts and understand the problem
First step. Acknowledge the depth of the problem. A lot of us know that child abuse exists but I don’t think a lot of people realize how crazy rampant it is. If anyone ever doubts the depth of its problem you can show them these statistics- courtesy of the Child Welfare Information Gateway- or this infograph, -courtesy of Mercy Home.
2. Keep the lines of communication open
Find ways to communicate with kids. Start by finding a common ground and connecting with your kid on their level. One idea- if your kid loves cars and you know nothing on the topic, look up what a piston is. (Yes, I recently had to do this because my 3-year-old knows way more about cars then I do.)
3. If they tell you they are being abused, don’t overreact
I’m not going to lie, I would struggle with this. If any of my babies came up to me and said, “Uncle Adult hit me,” my first instinct would be to go all mama bear on Uncle Adult. But this doesn’t help the already traumatized child. Be cool. Have a plan in place. Take care of the situation. We need to act like we would if our child broke a bone.
4. Listen and believe them
Children, for the most part, do not go around making up stories about adults hurting them. Admitting abuse is hard. Kids wouldn’t normally do that for kicks and giggles. If a child does open up about it, we need to validate them and believe what they have to say.
5. Teach your child to use his or her voice.
The other night I gave my son a surprise hug while he was playing with his cars. He turned around and looked me straight in the eyes. “I don’t like that, Mommy. I’m playing right now. Hugs later.” I couldn’t be prouder. It’s important that we make them feel safe expressing their feelings about physical touch.
6. Break the cycle of silence with as many people as you can.
Abuse has been such a taboo topic for way too long. Let’s end that. Let’s talk about it more. That way we can band together to nip the disease in the bud.
7. Take care of yourself- Don’t take negative emotions out on children
Don’t feel guilty for taking “you” time. If you need a break, tell your child. Its surprising how intuitive even young children are. When that doesn’t work, I like to employ the “mommy time out.” When I find myself getting over-emotional, I put on a timer and lock myself in the bathroom. When my children ask what I’m doing, I tell them “Mommy’s in time out.” It’s a very successful strategy.
8. Help other parents
To be totally honest, children are hard. What makes it harder is the utter disparaging isolation parents experience in western culture. It takes a village. I’ve been having health issues the last few weeks and I’ve found its definitely harder to discipline my child in a non-emotional way. I told my friend I was struggling and she immediately invited him over to play with her kids for a few hours. It seriously made a huge difference. Somehow, we need to find ways to help each other out more.
Someday, I would love to be able to volunteer in my community. If you by any chance have the time, energy and resources to volunteer at the moment, you can check out volunteer ideas at Prevent Child Abuse America.
It’s possible to help. We can make a difference!
Do you have more ideas to help end child abuse? Comment below to share your ideas!
*** If you or someone you know might be in an abusive relationship, please see my list of resources for support