What You Can Do to Help End Child Abuse

American Humane Association
Thursday, 8 April 2004

There is no single solution for the problem of child abuse in this country. But one thing is for certain: Every citizen shares responsibility for protecting children, preventing abuse, and helping create stronger families and communities.

In observance of National Child Abuse Prevention Month, the American Humane Association, which has been protecting children from abuse, neglect, and exploitation since 1877, calls on all Americans to work individually and through community partnerships to create a nation in which no child is harmed.

While the United States has an institutionalized child protection system, far too many children continue to be maltreated and neglected. In 2001, an estimated 903,000 children were confirmed victims of abuse situations. It is estimated that 1,300 died and an estimated 18,000 were permanently disabled as a result of near-fatal abuse and neglect.

"In most cases, the smallest of gestures from a concerned neighbor can make a huge difference in diffusing a situation that could become worse for a child," says Marie Belew Wheatley, American Humane's president.

Here are some suggested interventions:

  • Take all forms of abuse seriously. Learn about The Link® between child abuse, animal abuse, and other forms of violence.

  • Be objective and supportive. Remember that most parents want to be good parents but may need additional help, encouragement, and guidance.

  • Spend time coaching, tutoring, mentoring, or just playing with a child.

  • Help a family exhibiting signs of stress before problems escalate make a meal or invite the family to come to your house for dinner.

  • Offer to baby-sit the children of a single, working parent.

  • Encourage and show patience to difficult children. Include them in activities with your own children.

  • Volunteer at a child-serving agency.

  • Organize a neighborhood activity night.

  • Write a parenting tips column for your community newsletter.

  • Move from the confines of your home or backyard to the "front" to socialize and associate with your neighbors.

  • If efforts to reach a troubled child have failed, or you feel a child is being abused or is in danger, call your local child protective services or law enforcement agency.

Since 1983, April has been designated National Child Abuse Prevention Month as a time to remember all the children who have been victims of abuse or neglect.

National Child Abuse Prevention Month provides an opportunity to remember these children and to renew our commitment to preventing child abuse, and to explore why it happens in the first place.

For more information, or to contact American Humane Association, see their website at: www.americanhumane.org

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