There are few things more important in life than the safety and health of our children. This National Child Abuse Prevention Month, we’d feel it us imperative to discuss the reality of child abuse in our own community.
Based on the most recent release of information from the Texas Department of Family and Protective Services, in 2015:
- 8,127 confirmed victims of child abuse and neglect in Central Texas (Region 7*),
- 66,721 children and teens confirmed victims of child abuse and neglect in Texas, and for nearly 79% of those children, their parent or parents were the perpetrator
- 171 children died from abuse and neglect in Texas, 20 more fatalities than in FY 2014
* Region 7 is an area of 30 Texas counties that includes Travis County.
If this scares you, it should. I think it’s easy for us to shy away from talking about this subject because it’s scary and it’s incredibly heartbreaking. But not talking about it, not acknowledging it, is the exact thing that perpetuates it. Becoming aware, using your voice to acknowledge and prevent it, is the exact thing that will help to end it.
So what can you do? Here are some ideas to raise awareness during National Child Abuse Prevention Month:
- Educate your kids about ways to protect themselves. Start by giving them the correct, anatomical names of their body parts. Create honest, open and intentional times to discuss the power they hold over their own bodies. Perpetrators are typically someone the child already knows, not the random stranger in the grocery store. Consider using the document below to help get the conversation started – I just love the idea about having a “safety team” to go to if something doesn’t feel right.
- Wear a blue ribbon during the month of April. April is Child Abuse Prevention Month, and wearing a small symbol to acknowledge what is happening is a small way to help contribute to the cause.
- Save and print out the document below. Bring it to your child’s school and ask the principal to hang it in the bathroom. Bring it to your place of work and share it with your coworkers.
- Donate to the Children’s Advocacy Center in your town. Here in Austin, we have the incredible organization, The Center for Child Protection.
Reading this article in it’s entirety is a great first step in helping to protect the children in our community. If you have any suspicion of abuse, it is your duty to report it.