Employee. Spouse. Community Member. How many hats do you wear? We all fall into different categories and most of us hold more than one title, sometimes all at once! During this time of changes and uncertainty, we are being reminded of all the different spaces we occupy and some of us are experiencing new roles, like a teacher to your children while they are home! But one thing we can all be, no matter the present situation, is someone who practices prevention daily. And most steps can be accomplished during our social distancing requirements!
*Due to COVID-19 precautions, some recommendations are less advised. Save them once social interaction is permitted.*
So the burning question: What does being a supporter of prevention look like if I am a/in a….?
- Be informed. Whether through training or through online resources, being educated on signs, risk factors for abuse, how to minimize opportunity during quarantine, and how to report responsibly can help you identify potential instances of abuse in your children or their friends’ lives.
- Talk with other adults. Be courageous to start conversations with other adults about child abuse prevention. Ask what they are doing? Talk about how you can support and be there for each other.
- Talk with your children. Having open and honest communication pathways is one of the biggest protective factors we can offer our kids. Hard conversations can be nerve-wracking, but they are ALWAYS worth it! Take the “Talking with Children about Safety and Sexual Abuse” module from Darkness to Light for free with code TALK2020.
- Check in with yourself. If you are noticing your own stress levels are rising, take a step back. Meditate, go for a quick walk, journal, talk with a therapist, call a friend, do what you need to do to safely ground yourself.
- Ask for help. Parenting isn’t something you have to do alone. Whether a friend, family member, parenting class, or a support group, reaching out when help is never a bad decision. Especially if you are a new parent during this time.
FAMILY MEMBERS AND FRIENDS
- Be a safe and trusting adult for children in your life. Be aware of potential signs of abuse and how to report responsibly using the DHS Hotline at 855-503-7233 or calling your local law enforcement. Children who have caring adults in their lives are at a lower risk of experiencing abuse.
- Give an encouraging word to all parents. Parenting is tough and knowing that someone recognizes the job you are doing can sometimes shift a bad day into a not-so-bad-after-all day.
- “Fill in” for a parent/caregiver when they can’t attend a child’s sporting event or special occasion. It takes a village, as they say, and knowing that someone is there to support and encourage them can make all the difference to a child.
- Check-in. Are you concerned about a family? Make an effort to check in with the parents/caregivers, but also with the children. Unfortunately, abuse often occurs in the home. By making yourself available, you may be helping a child get the safety they need.
- Train staff and volunteers. Encourage all staff and volunteers that engage with children and youth to undergo training to prevent, recognize, and report child abuse.
- Minimize opportunities. Look for areas in your churches where interactions cannot always be observed. 80% of child sexual abuse situations happen in isolated one-on-one instances.
- Offer up your space. If you have an empty night in your activity calendar, consider hosting a parenting class, support group, or perhaps a respite night for parents. You can even plan an activity night for families in your community.
- Reach out to KIDS Center if you are concerned for a child or family that attends your church. We are always here to talk and provide resources when we can!
CHILD CARE PROVIDER
- Engage with families. You are often the one that sees the child just as much or more than the parents/caregivers, specifically when they are not of school age. Build relationships to find out the best way to support each individual family and be their resource.
- Be a voice for all children. Work to learn about how to provide accessible and inclusive environments for children with special needs or disabilities. Children with disabilities have a 2-3 times higher risk of being abused.
- Be educated. Taking trainings about child abuse prevention is a necessary part of your role, but be sure to also be educated about resources in your community. Referrals to different organizations can help a family in a time of crisis.
- Recognize your importance in a child’s life. They often see you as a trusted adult. If something seems off with a student, talk with them. Let them know you are there for them.
- Practice education. Be up to date on the best practices for preventing, recognizing, and reporting child abuse.
- Partner with organizations. Lean on other experts to provide education to children and families about abuse prevention and healthy relationships. The more we get involved the better!
- Practice self-care. You are worth it and your students need you to be an example of how to take care of themselves. Making space during your class time to practice emotional regulation skills is a great way to start!
- Be a financial supporter. Support organizations that work with children and families in your community like KIDS Center.
- Volunteer. Be known as a business that values giving back to the community not only financially, but with time. Schedule a day where employees are able to use work hours to volunteer at organizations and nonprofits throughout their community.
- Be informed. Learn how lowering adverse childhood experiences can greatly impact the future of your business.
- Train your staff…annually. When you commit to training your entire staff annually in child abuse prevention you will be recognized as a Partner in Prevention through Darkness to Light. Be the first business in the tri-counties to be placed on the national Partner in Prevention registry!
- Reach out. Talk to a trusted adult when something has happened or if you are unsure of what you or someone else experienced was abuse. Talking about a situation you have experienced is never easy, but it is a step towards healing. You don’t have to try and figure out how to handle a situation on your own!
- Be an active bystander. Speak up when you notice someone being targeted. If you feel unsafe to intervene, connect with a trusted adult who can help.
- Know your rights. No one and we mean NO ONE should make you feel uncomfortable, afraid, or touch you without your permission. If this happens, tell a trusted adult as soon as you can.
- Be an inspiration. Have a crazy idea about how to make this world a better place? Go for it! Bold ideas and creativity are what the world needs to see change. You can do it. KIDS Center believes in you!
No matter which category you find yourself, there is always an opportunity to practice child abuse prevention. We encourage you to make prevention a lifestyle and speak up for children who need to be protected and supported.