The ripple effect of child abuse and neglect extends to the entire community. Our health care system, schools, neighborhoods, and faith communities all reflect the stability, or lack thereof, of our families.
When children fall behind in school because of abuse and neglect, they continue to fall behind and to drop out of school. They struggle to support their own families and continue the cycle of poverty and abuse.
We believe child abuse and neglect are preventable and it begins with the strength of your own family.
Strong families build strong communities that are better able to provide solid schools for all the children in a community.
Strong families have the resilience and abundance to notice struggling parents and children, to reach out to them in everyday ways, to help lighten their load, to be involved in community organizations that nurture families and children in need.
What can you do to keep your family strong?
Know the protective factors. These are the strengths that families draw from when life gets tough. Building on these strengths is a proven way to keep a family strong and prevent abuse and neglect.
1. Nurturing and Attachment: Our family shows we love each other.
2. Knowledge of Parenting and Child Development: I know parenting is part natural and part learned. I am always learning new things about raising children and what they can do at different ages.
3. Parental Resilience: I have courage during stress and the ability to bounce back from challenges.
This doesn’t mean you handle stress perfectly. It does mean that you have the support and healthy coping skills to weather life’s struggles without taking it out on your children in abusive ways.
4. Social Connections: I have friends, family and neighbors who help out and provide support.
5. Concrete Support for Parents: Our family can meet our day-to-day needs, including housing, food, health care, and eduction and counseling. I know where to find help if I need it.
6. Social and Emotional Competence of Children: My children know they are loved, feel they belong and are able to get along with others.
Strong, protected families are not perfect families. They aren’t immune from stress and suffering. They aren’t 100% self-reliant but instead are connected with others in ways that allow them to receive help, offer help, and build community.
It’s easy to think that we’re not doing enough for our own children, especially when we focus on all that we could be doing. Might we encourage you to think about these protective factors and take comfort that you’re probably creating a strong, protected family in ways you don’t even realize?
Providing for your family’s basic needs, showing them love and support, connecting with one another, knowing the appropriate development for each stage of childhood, getting help when you need it — these are the building blocks of strong families and strong communities.
If these factors are in place within your family, take heart! YOU are an everyday superhero. YOU are making a difference. YOU are growing a strong family.
So keep doing your thing. But don’t stop there. Keep paying attention to those who may not have the resources and reserves that you do.
Together, we can make a difference, breaking the cycles of abuse and neglect, strengthening the foundation of our community.
We hope this post and this series will get you thinking about other everyday ways you can help prevent child abuse in our community.
Join us Wednesday for the last post of our blog series during Child Abuse Prevention Month.
Want to know another way you can help prevent child abuse? It’s easy. Share this post with your friends! Just use the social media buttons at the bottom of this post. Together, we can make a difference!
Do you know of everyday ways to lighten a parent’s load and thereby reduce the risk of abuse in your community? Share it with us!
Other Posts in this Series