According to the National Child Traumatic Stress Network’s website, the month of April was declared “Child Abuse Prevention Month” in 1983 by President Reagan. This month is now a time when we acknowledge how we as a community can work together to prevent child abuse. This month, Ada County Paramedics are helping raise awareness by participating in the Live for 175 Biking Event. Employees who signed up for the event each take a 30 spot on a stationary bike to shed light on child abuse and the notion that it “shouldn’t hurt to be a child.”
Of course we all wish child abuse didn’t exist— but unfortunately, the reality is it does. As mothers, fathers, paramedics, EMTs and citizens we need to be aware of and educate ourselves about this horrific topic. There are many different types of child abuse, including physical, neglect, emotional maltreatment and sexual abuse.
Federal law defines child abuse as “an act or failure to act which presents an imminent risk of serious harm,” and there are many ways we can prevent this from happening. Here are a few ways you can help prevent child abuse as outlined by the Children’s Advocacy Center’s website:
1. Be a good example.
Respect your family members, use a courteous voice tone, and when children misbehave let them know what is acceptable and what is not. Never hit. Violence breeds violence.
2. Praise and encourage children you know.
Mean words make children feel unloved and this hurt can last a lifetime. Stick up for children you know and tell them they are important.
3. Organize safety systems for your neighborhood.
Arrange for neighbors who are home most of the day to watch out for children on their way to and from school. Set up “safe houses” where children can go if they feel afraid.
4. Become a foster parent.
It’s not an easy job, but the rewards are great when you are able to help a child.
5. Understand which children are most likely to be abused.
Although child abuse occurs in all racial, ethnic, cultural and socio-economic groups, physical abuse and neglect are more likely among people living in poverty. Children who are most likely to be abused are children who are mentally retarded, premature, unwanted, stubborn, inquisitive, demanding or have a disability.
6. Learn to recognize the signs of abuse.
Know the signs of neglect, physical abuse, sexual abuse and emotional abuse.
7. Report suspected child abuse and neglect.
Call 1-800-252-5400 or 911 if you think a child us being neglected or abused. Children are rarely only abused once. If you suspect it, report it.