It’s Child Abuse Prevention Month in April – a time of year when we at BRIDGES promote awareness about the dangers of child abuse as well as steps that can be taken to prevent it in our communities.

Keep in mind: child abuse can happen in any family and in any neighborhood. Studies have shown that child abuse crosses all boundaries of income, race, ethnic heritage, and religious faith. The incidence is higher in these groups:

  • Families in which the parents are in their mid-20s
  • High school dropouts or lack a high school diploma
  • Families stressed because of a loss of job or home
  • Families with alcohol, or substance abuse problems
  • Families with a history of depression
  • Families with spouse abuse

Also, keep in mind: stopping child abuse isn’t a simple solution. It’s a concerted effort all of us need to take. Here are steps to prevent it, according to Prevent Child Abuse America.

  1. Be a nurturing parent.
    Children need to know that they are special, loved and capable of following their dreams.
  2. Help a friend, neighbor or relative.
    Being a parent isn’t easy. Offer a helping hand taking care of the children, so the parent(s) can rest or spend time together.
  3. Help yourself.
    When the big and little problems of your everyday life pile up to the point you feel overwhelmed and out of control – take time out. Don’t take it out on your kid.
  4. If your baby cries…
    It can be frustrating to hear your baby cry. Learn what to do if your baby won’t stop crying. Never shake a baby – shaking a child may result in severe injury or death.
  5. Get involved.
    Ask your community leaders, clergy, library and schools to develop services to meet the needs of healthy children and families.
  6. Promote programs in school. 
    Teaching children, parents and teachers prevention strategies can help to keep children safe.
  7. Monitor your child’s television, video, and internet viewing/usage. 
    Excessively watching violent films, TV programs, and videos can harm young children.
  8. Report suspected abuse or neglect.
    If you have reason to believe a child has been or may be harmed, call your local department of children and family services or your local police department.

Let’s work together to create great childhoods that all children deserve.

(Image credit: preventchildabuse.org)