April is National Child Abuse Prevention Awareness Month, a time to recognize the importance of families and communities working together to prevent child abuse and neglect. It’s also an opportunity to raise awareness and inspire collective action so that children can lead their best lives.
As every mom or dad knows, parenting can be difficult at times, especially when families feel stressed and overwhelmed. We’ve all seen it in action during “normal” times, at a grocery store where a parent is trying to shop with screaming kids, or with a friend or relative who is exhausted with managing their day-to-day life. And of course, the past year has been anything but normal for all parents.
But one way we can all play a part in strengthening the families in our community is to make sure that when we see something such as a parent in distress, we do something about it.
In the grocery store example, you might offer that parent some validation by acknowledging to them how hard it is to parent; you might even offer to assist or distract the kids while the parent finishes shopping. A simple gesture of support and empathy can make a positive difference. These small gestures can be the action that keeps struggling parents from lashing out at their kids or treating them in a way that they will later regret.
The pandemic has created other layers of stress for many families, including job losses, financial struggles, home schooling burdens and fears of COVID-19.
As neighbors, friends or relatives, here are a few ways you can help struggling parents:
By engaging with the families in your community and doing something to help support those near and dear to you, you are helping prevent child abuse and neglect. Rather than threatening families with social services reporting when circumstances may not qualify for child protection interventions, you can take action to help these families before child protection involvement is necessary.
Whether you are supporting others or are in need of support, here are some great resources to help empower families:
CO4Kids.orgWhen it comes to preventing child abuse and neglect, caseworkers and social workers need your help. This hotline seeks to end child abuse and neglect by providing the resources all Coloradans need to educate themselves and get involved with helping struggling parents or children.
Growing and Maintaining Strong FamiliesMost parents occasionally need a sympathetic listener, advice, or concrete support. Research has shown that parents who are isolated, with few social connections, are at higher risk for child abuse and/or neglect. Here are five proven ways for parents to help kids grow and maintain strong families.
50+ ways you can play a role in strengthening families.One of the most effective ways to prevent child abuse is to strengthen families. Here are 50+ ways for neighbors, community organizations, employers, and people in the service industry and spiritual community to strengthen families.
Child Welfare 2021/2022 Prevention Resource GuideProtective factors and innovative ways that communities around the country are practicing purposeful prevention work to help children and families thrive.