Six Ways You Can Prevent Child Abuse
A toddler at our emergency children’s shelter perches on my knee and watches as I slather yellow paint on his chubby fingers, saying yellow with each brush stroke. He’s learning new words every day, repeating “lellow” as we work on an art project together. I notice the emblems on his sandals, point and say, “Batman.” Looking concerned, he replies, “No, lellow.” His innocent eyes search mine for affirmation. The black bat is indeed suspended in a yellow oval. I laugh and agree, “Yellow.” He smiles a satisfied grin, then continues to press handprints on paper. As I consider this sweet 18-month-old boy, I can’t help but wonder, “How did this precious child end up in a shelter that cares for abused and neglected children?”
We all play a role in decreasing child abuse
Preventing child abuse is a responsibility we all share. Individual awareness and action can lead to strong, nurturing communities that are supportive of families and promote child and family well-being. During April, which is National Child Abuse Prevention Month, and throughout the year, consider the actions you can take to help address this issue.
- Strengthen your family. There are a group of known factors that help strengthen family relationships. Things like fostering nurturing and attachment, knowing how a child develops, acquiring parenting skills and finding emotional support are just a few. Child Crisis Arizona offers a number of classes and workshops as well as a home visitation program that can help develop these.
- Tap into available resources. There is a vast array of services and resources available that address many of the issues that increase the likelihood of abuse. You can learn about them at 211Arizona.org or by calling Child Crisis Arizona’s Family Resource Care Coordinator at 480-834-9424.
In the community
- Be aware of potential signs of abuse. Unexplained bruising or injuries, malnourishment, developmental delays or extremes in behavior such as aggression or withdrawal can all be signs of abuse or neglect.
- Report suspected abuse or neglect to the Arizona Department of Child Safety or call the anonymous hotline at 1-888-767-2445. Reporting your concerns is not making an accusation, but, rather, a request for an investigation and assessment to determine if help is needed.
At the state and federal levels
- Research child welfare issues and pending legislation and encourage state and federal legislators to act in the best interest of the children.
- Speak to your representatives about the importance of funding prevention efforts and ask them to continue supporting programs designed to strengthen families and eradicate abuse.
Child abuse is preventable. By gaining knowledge and taking action, together we can keep innocent children free from harm.