Saturday, April 14, 2012
Give children a voice: What can YOU do during Child Abuse Prevention Month
We all know there are so many different categories of abuse on children, much of the focus is on those forms of abuse we can see. But there are several others that are considered 'invisible' in that we know they happen but we can't see proof of them going on. We can see bruises, burn marks, cuts, broken bones or signs of neglect. These outer wounds heal, eventually, but a child remains bruised underneath for much longer.
Their memories are very long and the inner bruises remain fresh because they are too afraid to tell someone what is happening to them. They often don't even understand what's going on, only that what's happening is wrong. It's wrong to yell, curse at, cut down or otherwise rip a child's self-esteem apart. It is not okay to touch a child inappropriately or manipulate her to behave as a grown woman should. It is equally not okay to expose a child to pornography or conversations of explicit sexual content or similar examples of non-physical sexual abuse (a subject that my good friend author Michelle O'Neil brought to light in her powerful novel Daughter of the Drunk at the Bar). It is never okay to make a child feel useless, hurt, scared, dirty, stupid or as if they were a mistake.
Children should be allowed to grow up just enjoying a life of fun, innocence and gentle curiosity of the world. They shouldn't have to deal with adult problems or deal with anything that is beyond their age or level of understanding. They are each and every one of them gifts from God and have a reason for being here. No adult, peer or other person has the right to take the innocence away from a child, or their lives.
Child Abuse Prevention as to do with education, understanding, acceptance and courage:
EDUCATING ourselves about the different kinds of abuse and the signs that a child may be experiencing abuse. It also means teaching a child how to protect themselves and know that if something is done to them, they have trusted people to turn to.
UNDERSTANDING that this is a preventable issue if we know what to watch for and give our children the right tools not only to prevent these horrible actions but also teach them how to go on if they were forced to endure them. We need to realize that abuse doesn't define who the child is and help her understand that, helping her see the positives inside of her she can turn to for strength.
ACCEPTANCE that we are all responsible for helping children who are abused. If you suspect something is going on, or worse, if you know, you need to do something. It is a child's right to live his life freely and without being victimized. And it is our responsibility--as parents, teachers, friends or concerned community members--to ensure that right.
COURAGE to stand up and speak out. It also means instilling that courage in a child who was brave enough to say, 'Help me!'. It means being strong enough to grab his hand when he reaches out to you.
Join us this week as we offer information, suggestions, resources and inspirational stories.
Give a child his or her voice...speak up for a child in need. I was one of those children and now I give my voice to them as loudly as I can.
Will you join me?