April is Child Abuse Prevention Month. Child Abuse Prevention Month was created because child abuse and neglect were both widespread and too often invisible.
“Our children are our future” may be a cliche, but it’s still true that the more adults can have a positive impact on a child’s experiences, the stronger society will be. Maltreatment can cause victims to feel isolation, fear, and distrust, which can translate into lifelong psychological consequences that can manifest as educational difficulties, low self-esteem, depression, and trouble forming and maintaining relationships.
A safe, stable, and nurturing environment can have a proven positive effect on brain development.
Research shows that children who suffer from the prolonged stress of abuse and neglect tend to struggle in their behavioral, physical, and cognitive abilities.
The effects of early trauma tend to continue through generations. In contrast, experiencing support in early childhood can prevent or even reverse the damaging effects of early life stress, with lifelong benefits for a young person’s learning, behavior, and health.
Whatever seeds have been planted, or not planted, will affect a person’s health, ability to learn, and ultimately, earning power.
Child abuse and neglect don’t stem from just one cause, which is why stopping its destructive cycle is so difficult.
Living in a community with a high rate of violence, limited access to social services, poverty, and unemployment are all major factors.
Addressing community needs by giving families support has much more impact, and costs much less, than attempting to address the consequences of adversity after a child has grown up.
What Can Be Done?
Increased awareness and collective action are key factors in conquering child abuse and neglect. These strategies are the mission of Child Abuse Prevention Month every year.
Business leaders can recognize that supporting families and children will lead to economic growth.
Policymakers can reduce the hurdles faced by families who need support and resources.
Faith communities can open up their spaces for parent and youth activities.
Organizations that host families and young people can train staff on how to recognize, respond to, and prevent child abuse and neglect.
Educators can be more attuned to noticing if something seems wrong with a student and follow-up
Friends and neighbors can pay closer attention and help with the social isolation some parents may experience.
Anyone who thinks a parent should seek support can share the 1-800-CHILDREN (244-5373) Helpline number.