All can help prevent abuse~ RH 4-2-16
The African expression that “It takes a village to raise a child” is absolutely true. Many parents lack extended family close by to offer that break for a parent and modeling for how to manage children’s misbehavior appropriately. Feeling isolated and on your own with children can often lead to stressful moments that can escalate into behavior we regret. Children don’t need perfect parents, but they do need to feel and be safe. Children do well when they can trust their parents to be stable, supportive and nurturing. Children thrive when they know they can talk with their parents, share concerns and ask for help with small and big problems.
Part of protecting children means that every child has someone in their lives who they can confide in. Parents aren’t the only adults children need to depend upon. Aunts, uncles, grandparents, family friends, teachers, neighbors, yes, all of us need to step up and be part of the “ village.”
And importantly, if something seems questionable, question it. Speak up if another adult or older child or teen is bullying or hurting a child physically. Intervene if you observe someone touching a child in a way that makes you feel uncomfortable. Speak up and say what is making you feel uncomfortable. This is often a very effective way to stop child sexual abuse before it starts.
If you believe a child is being abused, call the 24-hour hotline at the Vermont Department for Children and Families at 1-800-649-5285. You do not need to have proof that this has occurred, just a reasonable suspicion.
Each of us can help families be strong and children be healthy. If you are interested in volunteering, donating or receiving help, please give Prevent Child Abuse (PCAVT), a call at 1-800-CHILDREN. We offer information, support and referrals on our helpline and programs for parents, child-care programs and schools. Learn more about PCAVT by going on our website, www.pcavt.org.
LINDA E. JOHNSON
(Executive director, Prevent Child Abuse Vermont)