Working to Bring Awareness to Child Abuse in Our Community
April is designated National Child Abuse Prevention Month in our country. Child abuse is a matter of true national concern – and when the subject comes up, many people tend to focus on intervention. It’s also important to recognize ways we can work together to lower the risk factors and build stronger protective resources.
Lowering Risk Factors
Risk factors include any stressed-filled situation or circumstance which increases the likelihood that a child will encounter abuse or neglect. Common risk factors include: poverty, substance abuse, a parent with chronic depression or a history of domestic violence. When the community and individuals work together to lower these risks, children’s safety and well-being can be increased.
Building Protective Factors
Protective factors are situations or conditions which work to promote a child’s healthful development and to mitigate adverse factors. Working together to build protective factors can be an effective approach. In families where there are risk factors for child abuse, it can be encouraging to point out how parents can build their own protective factors. Nationwide, efforts to help strengthen families are taking on ever-increasing importance as a method of preventing child abuse and neglect. For example, activities like the YWCA Mom’s Time, JUMP program and parenting classes can be effective and positive resources for parents experiencing stress.
Essentials for Childhood Initiative
Another example of a positive protective effort is the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s Essentials for Childhood initiative. This effort addresses child abuse prevention through emphasizing a child’s need for safety, stability and nurturing within their everyday environment. The CDC has worked directly with several state-level health departments to provide the tools and a framework for helping to meet those protective goals.
Here at the YWCA St. Joseph, we coordinate or partner in several programs which work to build protective factors and prevent child abuse and neglect. Together with other agencies and volunteers, we provide families opportunities to see that encouraging words and daily routines can make a major impact on a child’s life.
Today, we invite you to learn more about YWCA St. Joseph resources at www.ywcasj.org, and to share this information with someone during April as National Child Abuse Prevention Month.