Did you know Meigs County’s rate for children abused and neglected is 18.7, compared to the state’s rate of 6.8? (KidsCount Data Center) This is a heartbreaking statistic, but you can play such an important role in making a difference.
April is National Child Abuse Prevention Month. This month and throughout the year, The Meigs County Health Department encourages all individuals and organizations to play a role in making Meigs County a better place for children and families. By ensuring that parents have the knowledge, skills, and resources they need to care for their children, we can help prevent child abuse and neglect by making meaningful connections with children, youth and families in our communities.
Research shows that protective factors are present in healthy families. Promoting these factors is among the most effective ways to reduce the risk of child abuse and neglect. They are:
- Nurturing and attachment
- Knowledge of parenting and of child/youth development
- Parental resilience
- Social connections
- Concrete supports for parents
- Social and emotional competence of children
Communities play such an important role in protecting children and strengthening families, and those ‘communities’ are people! Everyone can be a factor in helping to improve this heartbreaking issue. Focusing on ways to CONNECT with families in the best thing our community can do to strengthen families and prevent abuse and neglect.
Childhelp.org has developed some abuse and neglect prevention guidelines to help keep your child, or a child you know or care for, from becoming a statistic:
- Never discipline your child when your anger is out of control.
- Participate in your child’s activities and get to know your child’s friends.
- Never leave your child unattended, especially in the car.
- Teach your child to use their voice to allow them to prevent abuse in their own life.
- Ask questions; for example, when your child tells you he or she doesn’t want to be with someone, this could be a red flag.
- Listen to them and believe what they say.
- Be aware of changes in your child’s behavior or attitude and inquire into it.
- Teach your child what to do if you and your child become separated while away from home.
- Teach your child the correct names of his/her private body parts.
- Be alert for any talk that reveals premature sexual understanding.
- Pay attention when someone shows greater than normal interest in your child.
Anyone can and should report suspected child abuse or neglect. If you think a child is being mistreated, take immediate action. Call Meigs County Children’s Services at 740-992-3658.
Juli Simpson, RN, BSN, is the Maternal and Child Health Program Director at the Meigs County Health Department.