Child abuse is the ugly reality of the world we live in. Children around the world are fighting a hidden and rampant epidemic of neglect and abuse all around the world. As per the official statistics by Child Help, every 10 seconds, a case of child abuse is reported in the United States. Every year over four million children are referred to child protection agencies. America loses about five children daily due to child abuse and neglect, and the situation keeps getting even worse each year.
National Child Abuse Prevention Month is a global initiative to direct people’s focus and resources on the growing threat of child abuse on our children. It is a reminder that we all collectively have an important role in ensuring that children worldwide grow up in a safe, healthy, and supportive environment.
This National Child Abuse Prevention Month, let us dive deeper into how you can play a decisive role in preventing child abuse around you. To begin with, let us first understand what child abuse is.
What Is Child Abuse?
The World Health Organization (WHO) addresses child abuse as any action that can cause actual or potential harm to a child’s health, development, survival, and dignity in the context of the relationship with the abuser. These actions include:
- physical and emotional ill-treatment,
- sexual abuse,
- neglect or negligent treatment,
- or commercial or other exploitation.
Warning Signs Of Child Abuse
The warning signs of child abuse include the following:
- withdrawal from social activities,
- extreme changes in behavior like aggressiveness, hostility, fear, etc.,
- frequent absences from school,
- attempts to run away,
- self-harm or suicidal behavior,
- unaccounted injuries,
- excessive fear of parents or another individual,
- constant hunger or lack of energy, etc.
The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) associates adverse childhood experiences (including abuse and neglect and other incidents of unhealthy families) with a variety of long-term health problems in affected individuals. Children with six or more adverse childhood experiences had a two-decade shorter life expectancy than those others. They are also more at risk of mental health conditions like depression, drug abuse, and much more. The condition is so severe that, as per a study by A B Silverman, 80% of 21-year-old individuals who reported cases of child abuse were likely to have the symptoms of at least one mental disorder.
How Can You Play A Decisive Role This National Child Abuse Prevention Month?
Now that you know about the implications of child abuse, let us understand how all of us, at an individual level, can play an important role in preventing it.
1. Find out about prevention programs.
One of the most important things you can do this National Child Abuse Prevention Month is to find out the various child abuse prevention programs offered by prevention agencies and local authorities. These programs can help in multiple important areas of prevention and care through:
- early detection and screening,
- crisis care programs,
- community-level prevention programs,
- social worker intervention, and much more.
2. Listen to children carefully if they ever disclose abuse.
If a child discloses any form of abuse to you, it is important to calmly listen to them and make them feel safe. It is essential to understand that opening up is extremely difficult for children going through abuse. Therefore, if they open up to you, know they have already fought a difficult battle and would need your non-judgmental care. Your initial response can determine whether the child will eventually report abuse or not. Therefore be patient. Do not invalidate or blame the child for whatever is happening to them.
Additionally, it is important to teach children about communicating things that make them feel unsafe from an early age.
3. Spread Awareness.
Once you know about child prevention programs, spreading that awareness to the people around you is important. You can do so in various ways – from volunteering to teach a class to talk to your friends or family members or participating in child abuse awareness programs. By doing so, you help make society a safer place to be in for our younger generation.
Read more: Most Common Teenage Social Issues Examples
National Child Abuse Prevention Month is a month-long initiative highlighting the often unnoticed and ignored issue of child abuse. By bringing attention and awareness to this issue, we can help people learn about the warning signs of child abuse and take potent actions to prevent it.
National Child Abuse Prevention Month is a reminder to unite as members of the global society and pledge our commitment to protecting children and giving them a safe and healthy life.
Child abuse can take a massive toll on people’s emotional and mental well-being. Therapy is a potent way to address these issues in a safe space and find ways to recover from them. Access to therapy is now easier than ever with the advent of online therapy programs. To know more about them, click here.
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