During our Child Abuse Prevention Month Kick-off, I suggested two opinions of child abuse prevention. “Prevention is for everyone” and “We, the adults, are responsible.”
My personal philosophy of child abuse prevention is that it be a purposeful initiative to reduce child abuse occurrences and liberate those that may be silent victims. When working with young people I am responsible for directly communicating what abuse is to children of all ages and intentionally engaging with students in the simplest way possible to allow them to hear and respond to a dark and unfortunate piece of our real world. There is no guarantee that child abuse occurrences will be fewer in a community exclusively because of active prevention. However, with prevention there is some possibility that more children are given the knowledge in how to recognize and respond to mistreatment or danger of themselves or their peers.
The Dragonfly House Children’s Advocacy Center has given hope to hundreds of victims of child abuse, neglect, and maltreatment in Davie, Davidson, and surrounding counties. When looking at data, the number of reported abuse cases are not decreasing; this identifies a cycle of abuse within our communities. Investigative services will always be needed. These services will protect and defend victims, but may not necessarily prevent the issue. Prevention is an additional step taken by the people in a community. Caring to know and knowing what to share are the first commitments.
When abuse of a child happens, it breaks down the connectivity of the child and the community around them in some sense. Child abuse can cripple the ability of a community to grow if it is not seen and not heard. Child abuse divides people–those that are advocating for children, those who may be ignoring children or the problem, and those that are mistreating children and causing the abuse. Any one of us can know or be an acquaintance to someone that has experienced or is connected to child abuse. No one is excused or eliminated from THE ISSUE.
The staff at our center and the members of our multi-disciplinary team are here to help repair the damage after the disclosure has been made, but what about the work that can be done to prevent the damage from occurring in the first place?
Take a moment to write down the first names of 10 children you know – friends of your children, children of your friends, children in your neighborhood or church, etc.
Reflect on each name and remember that 1 in 4 girls and 1 in 6 boys will be sexually abused by their 18th birthday. Who on your list WILL be affected by sexual abuse, if they haven’t already? Are you willing to wait until that abuse occurs to put help apply the band-aid or are you willing to speak up now and teach those children about abuse and how to end it?
Let’s work together to provide an UPSTREAM SOLUTION to this downstream problem.
E-mail me today at firstname.lastname@example.org and ask how you can help upstream.
Sheria White, Community Educator
Youtube video is a courtesy of Prevent Child Abuse North Carolina.