Everyone can agree that child abuse is a heartbreaking issue. No one wants to see their children suffer. Many of us also hear about child abuse prevention and awareness. Yet, most people, maybe even you, think their kids are unlikely to suffer child abuse.
But child abuse can happen anywhere, anytime. No home, family, neighborhood, school, culture, religion, or community is immune to this painful reality.
According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), about 1 in 4 girls and 1 in 13 boys in the United States experience child sexual abuse. Someone known and trusted by the child or their family members perpetrates 90% of child sexual abuse. CDC data also revealed that, in 2020, 1,750 children died of abuse and neglect in the United States. That’s why it is necessary to create child abuse awareness.
It’s the most effective weapon for child abuse prevention.
What Can I Do To Spread Child Abuse Awareness?
Here’s what you can do.
1. Educate Your Children Early
From a young age, we teach our children to keep themselves safe. For example, parents often teach their kids to:
- Look both ways before crossing the roads.
- Not to speak with strangers.
- Stay away from the hot stove.
But how many of you talk to your children about body safety at a young age?
Most of us don’t talk about this until the kids are much older. However, talking about body parts at an early age can help in child abuse prevention. The sooner children become aware of this threat, the safer they will be.
- Teach your children that some body parts are private.
- Tell them that no one should touch their private body parts.
- Also, teach them that no one should ask them to touch somebody else’s private parts.
- Teach them how to get out of scary or uncomfortable situations.
This early awareness can go a long way in child abuse prevention.
2. Educate Yourself as a Parent Guardian or Teacher
Educating your children alone isn’t enough. As a parent, guardian, or teacher, you should also help create child abuse awareness among yourselves. While you’re probably doing plenty to protect your children, there’s always room to improve. Here’s what you can do to prevent child abuse.
- Never try to discipline your child if your anger is out of bounds.
- Be as much a part of your child’s life as you can. Your children need your presence.
- Teach your children to speak up, especially about what’s bothering them.
- Never leave your child unattended, even for a few minutes.
- If you notice a sudden behavior change, talk to your child.
- If someone shows unwarranted interest in your child, pay close attention.
- Always look out for premature sexual understanding or injuries to private body parts.
These steps can help ensure child abuse prevention as a parent. Make sure to talk about them with other parents. You can support and help each other in spreading child abuse awareness.
3. Reach out for Help as Soon as Possible
This is a critical step in child abuse prevention. You must remember that help is just around the corner. There are many programs offered to spread child abuse awareness. The local child abuse prevention centers can help you in this regard. For example, Prevent Child Abuse Utah offers different educational and awareness programs.
A) School & Community Prevention Programs
These programs educate children about identifying child abuse. With these programs, you can also help children learn safety strategies and empower them to report abuse. The in-school programs are free and age-appropriate.
B) Home Visiting Programs
These programs focus on educating pregnant women and new parents. Home visiting programs are tailored to your needs. It’s easier to conduct these programs in your home. But they can be done in anywhere you feel comfortable. These programs specialize in creating strong families.
You can contact Prevent Child Abuse Utah for more information. You can also call or text the Childhelp National Child Abuse Hotline at 1-800-4-A-CHILD (1-800-422-4453) for child abuse prevention guidelines and information.
4. Understand the Signs of Child Abuse
Spotting the signs of child abuse can be challenging because they may not always be obvious. Plus, the child might not tell what is happening to them. It’s often not easy for children to speak up in such situations. But spotting these signs is critical in child abuse prevention.
A child will most likely feel ashamed and guilty. The child will also be afraid to talk about it with anyone, even their parents. It is especially true if the abuser is a parent, relative, or family friend. That’s why you need to watch for the signs of child abuse.
Some common signs that may indicate your child is being abused include:
- Withdrawal from friends or usual activities is a warning sign. Many children will remove themselves from active social life when they are going through abuse.
- Changes in behavior. These include aggression, anger, hostility, or hyperactivity. For example, a usually mild manner child suddenly becomes rebellious or defiant.
- Changes in academic performance. You may also see changes in school performance, such as poor grades, frequent absence from school, and no extracurricular activities.
- Depression, anxiety or unusual fears, or a sudden loss of self-confidence are equally common. These signs may indicate ongoing child abuse.
- Sleep problems and nightmares are also equally prevalent in children going through abuse.
- In some cases, you may see the child inflicting self-harm or attempting suicide.
As a parent or teacher, you should watch out for these signs. But these signs will vary depending on the type of child abuse. For example, sexual abuse victims often show sexual behavior or knowledge inappropriate for their age, while unexplained injuries are a sign of physical abuse.
If you see any of these signs, seek help from experts to prevent child abuse any further.
Child abuse is a sad reality. We must fight it to keep our future – our children safe. Whether you are a parent or a teacher, you can help prevent child abuse. Even the smallest step today can help save a child and many more from future abuse. And you can do it by getting aware of the issue and spreading awareness. Hopefully, these tips will help you get started.
If you see a child being abused or neglected, call (855) 323-3237. In case of an emergency, dial 911 for immediate assistance. If you need help spreading child abuse awareness or preventing it, get in touch with us. Fill out our online contact form to learn how we can help.