April is National Child Abuse Prevention Month, Here's How You Can Help
April is National Child Abuse Prevention Month -- dedicated to recognizing “the importance of families and communities working together to prevent child abuse and neglect and promotes the social and emotional well-being of children and families.”
Ways you can help prevent child abuse
Battling child abuse might sound like an impossible undertaking, but you can make a difference by watching for the signs and becoming educate on the facts:
- Get to know your children’s friends and their parents.Have conversations with your kids and encourage them to speak up if they are being abused or if they think a friend or classmate is being abused.
- Make an effort to truly listen to your child. Many children don’t speak up about abuse because they’re afraid no one will believe them.
- Pay attention to the little things and ask questions. For example, if your child expresses dislike for someone, get to the root of the issue.
- If you notice any behavioral changes in a child be sure to ask them about what they’re experiencing.
- Be leery of adults who show an abnormal interest in your child.
- Teach your kids how to use their voice to speak up for themselves and explain what abuse looks like so they can prevent it in their life.
- Educate children about the correct names for private body parts, and watch out for language that could indicate a premature understanding of sexual encounters.
Signs of child abuse and neglect
You should also educate yourself on some of the most common signs of child abuse and neglect, such as:
Lack of sufficient clothing for the weather, not just during winter.
- Lack of adult supervision.Frequent school absences.
- Begging for or stealing food and money.
- Reluctance to be around certain people.
- Unexplained bruises, wounds, soreness, and injuries (sometimes accompanied by reluctance to change clothes.)
Preventing Child Abuse in the Grand Valley
It takes a village to protect children, and there are several Grand Valley-area organizations doing amazing work. including the Western Slope Center for Empowering Children. This organizationprovides a safe, child-friendly environment for children who are victims of abuse and neglect. They also connect victims and families to support services and community agencies.
To report child abuse or neglect in Mesa County call (970) 242-1211. If you suspect a child is being abused don’t hesitate to reach out to them for more information and guidance.
Outside of Mesa County, concerned adults can call the 24/7 National Child Abuse Hotline at 1-800-4-A-CHILD (1-800-422-4453). The hotline is staffed with counselors who can give you information about child abuse prevention and crisis intervention.