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K is for Kindness – A to Z on Child Abuse Prevention

There is no excuse for abusing and neglecting a child. Factors such as drugs and alcohol or a history of victimization of the parent/guardian substantially raise the odds of abuse in a home. But there is also a correlation between abuse and the inability or refusal to deal with the everyday stressors in life. Parents and guardians lacking the support systems and coping skills to handle the responsibilities and hard work that go into caring for and raising a baby or multiple children, regardless of their socio-economic status, can create high-risk situations for children in those homes.

K is for Kindness Child Abuse Prevention Month

Just a little can mean a whole lot.

Sometimes it seems like every door is closing in your face. That no one hears you or even sees you. That you are doing it all on your own and you are doing it all wrong. That you will never NOT feel like you do right now. This kind of despair in the adults of a household can breed devastating results in the home.

 

One small ray of sunshine. One breath of fresh air. One break in the madness. When faced with an impossible situation, one touch of hope may change your life. It could make such a difference why would you not run out your door and do one of these things Right Now?

HERE IS WHERE YOU CAN HAVE AN IMMEDIATE IMPACT ON A FAMILY IN YOUR COMMUNITY

Kindness Child Abuse Prevention Month

Give a helping hand.

 

 Random Acts of Kindness that won’t cost you much time or money but to someone they could mean EVERYTHING.

  1.  Say “Good Morning” to the person standing next to you in line or on the train.
  2. Pay the toll for the driver behind you.
  3. Write a letter and put it in the mail to someone, young or old. Remember how great it felt to get mail that wasn’t a bill or ad.
  4. Offer to make a grocery store run for an elderly neighbor or the lady next door who has four kids.
  5. Give a homeless person your left overs when you leave a restaurant. Especially if you’re pretty sure it’s going to end up in your trash or trashing your diet.
  6. Put a coin in a meter that has expired or getting ready to expire.
  7. At the grocery store, don’t let anyone put back groceries because they are a dollar short if you have a dollar to spare.
  8. Hold the door for a mother/father with children or pregnant woman, even if it takes a really long time.
  9. Look someone in the eyes and wish them a good day like you mean it.
  10. If you see someone struggling with their children in public it is stressful for everyone around. You don’t want to offer to help with the kids. That can be either scary or insulting. But do offer to help with the task the kids are making more difficult. Help get the stroller through the door. Give up your seat so she can put a kid there. Carry her tray to her table for her so she can hold her kids hands or push a stroller.
  11. Say “Please” and “Thank You” and “Excuse Me” like you mean it to everyone. It’s not just respectful… it’s refreshing.
  12. Let a car in your lane. You are now one car length further from reaching your destination but you might have just prevented some road rage.
  13. Offer to baby sit for a mom.
  14. Stop what you are doing and concentrate everything on listening to someone who needs an ear.
  15. Use the comment/complaint box to compliment great service you received by name.
  16. Offer a hug without question or advice.
  17. Ask “How are you really doing?” when the usual response of “fine” doesn’t seem fine at all.
  18. Leave a really good tip for really good service. A lot of times 15% seems like too much but sometimes it is not enough.
  19. If you are able, pick up the tab of a person or family when you are out eating. (Someone did this for me once when I was out with my kids who were acting like miniature hooligans. I didn’t need it but thinking of it now feels like walking in soft sunshine which isn’t even close to how wonderful it felt at the time.)
  20. Smile at the people you pass.
  21. Donate food and items directly to food banks, women’s shelters and children’s homes. Goodwill is great but they sell your items to fund their efforts. A woman in a shelter could use your never-wear suit on a job interview. That crib will never be empty at the children’s home. And the green beans your husband won’t eat will sure be tasty to a hungry family.
  22. Say something nice to everyone you speak to today.
  23. If it seems like someone could use a chance to vent (friend or stranger), create an opportunity and a space for them to do that. You don’t need to solve their problem. Just let them get it out.
  24. Let people in line behind you go before you if it makes sense. They have one item or are obviously in a hurry. The kids are crying or you have a circumstance you know will tie up the line for a while. Things like that could be little to you and a lifesaver for someone else.
  25. Leave your change in the snack or soda machine. Finding a few coins makes it seem like good things are coming your way.
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J is for Juvenile Justice – A to Z on Child Abuse Prevention

Many studies have been done showing that child abuse can lead to many unfortunate outcomes later in life. In “F is for Facts” you saw that children who experience child abuse and neglect are 9 times more likely to become involved in criminal activity. These startling numbers show once again that child abuse affects everyone. It is a human race problem when the actions of abusive and neglectful family life create a traumatic environment that is insufficient for proper mental, physical and social growth.

 

Many victims end up in the juvenile justice system.

Many victims end up in the juvenile justice system.

Being abused or neglected as a child increases the likelihood of arrest as a juvenile by 59%, as an adult by 28%, and for a violent crime by 30% according to a study published in 2001 titled “An Update on the ‘Cycle of Violence’”.  We have an huge justice system in this country and we also have a very extensive child protection system but they do not always work together and when a victim falls through the cracks of the protection system they often end up in our jails, further victimized and removed from the help they need to recover.

This graphic from the US Census shows the reported child abuse numbers by state, giving you an idea of the impact in your area if you do the math of how many of these children are going to end up committing a crime.

US Census Numbers on Child Abuse by State

US Census Numbers on Child Abuse by State

There is a way to make the system work better. Some cities are instituting some smart processes that could make an impact but many are not. I invite you to view this short video on Innovations in the Juvenile Justice System and think about what can be done to in your area to help victims not become part of the system.

 

 

I is for Involved – A to Z on Child Abuse Prevention

You’ve heard the stories. You’ve seen the statistics. The chances are pretty good that child abuse has touched your world if not personally then with someone you know in your family or community. We all know its wrong, and it must stop.

So what do you do? How can you get involved in the fight against child abuse?

Get Involved.  You can make a difference.

Get Involved. You can make a difference.

A is for Advocacy of this Blogging Series discussed a few of the many ways you can contribute to the fight against child abuse by speaking out and educating people. Here are some suggestions on additional ways to get involved.

The Short List to Getting Involved

Get to know your neighbors. Problems seem less overwhelming when support is nearby.
Help a family under stress. Offer to babysit, help with chores and errands, or suggest resources in the community that can help.
Reach out to children in your community. A smile or a word of encouragement can mean a lot to a child, whether from a parent or passing stranger.
Be an active community member. Lend a hand at local schools, community or faith-based organizations, children’s hospitals, social service agencies, or other places where families and children are supported.
Keep your neighborhood safe. Start a neighborhood watch or plan a local ‘night out’ community event. You will get to know your neighbors while helping to keep your neighborhood and children safe.
Promote child well-being in your personal life by being very conscious of your daily involvement and interaction with your family and other families.  30 Ways to Promote Child Well Being Child Welfare.gov provides a bunch of great little tips in this calendar:  CAP Parent Engagement Calendar

When you are ready to make a real commitment to getting involve you could:

  • Register to vote and get to know your elected officials. Taking an active role in the election process helps get policy-makers who are passionate about what you are passionate about in office and in a position to make changes that give more protection to children and victims. Be the voice of silent victims and communicate your concerns to your local city council, state legislators and federal Congresspersons. Meet face to face, write your policy-makers, and call your elected officials.
  • Use your influence to get the word out that there is a problem that needs to be addressed at a local and national level. Even if your circle of influence is five Twitter followers from India and a Facebook friends list of eight that includes your mom and five brothers you are still and influencer of people. You can speak to your professional associations, service clubs or religious institutions. Don’t spam people in person or online, simply get the word out about events, tell your personal story, engage in dialogue and get feedback on what other people are thinking and feeling. This educates the masses and can create partnerships that can affect change.
  • Become a volunteer or a leader. There are literally thousands of organizations that could use your help in their programs. The previous post “Giving Safely – an A to Z Bonus” details ways you can check if organizations you are interested in are legitimate. If you are unaware of the organizations in your community you could volunteer I’d like to make a suggestion. Simply go the search bar of your favorite internet home page and Yahoo, Google, or Bing “Child Abuse [your city]”. You’ll likely get some local news you were unaware of but you will also get a list of organizations in your area. You can also call 2-1-1 to find out about organizations that support families in your area. Do some research, check their background if anything seems off and find a few hours in your month that you can stop what you are doing and help the children in your community. Working with children and for a cause can be extremely rewarding and gratifying. Even if it is stuffing envelopes or making phone calls, all levels of volunteerism DO help.

Take a moment to think about what you could do towards the prevention of child abuse and how you could help victims. And then take the MOST IMPORTANT STEP and do something. Taking action makes a difference.

H is for Healing – A to Z on Child Abuse Prevention

I set up to write a post on the healing process for children of sexual child abuse specifically because of the added stigmas surround abuse of a sexual nature.  In doing my research I found a great website that addressed it better than I could after hours of research.

I’d like to thank the Advocacy Center for this great information on the subject of healing and encourage you to click the link and read the Advocacy Center side bar to explore more information like “Reducing Children’s Vulnerability to Sexual Abuse” and “Who Sexually Abuses Children”.

The Advocacy Center

 

H is for Healing

A to Z on Child Abuse Prevention

Beginning to Heal from Child Sexual Abuse

It may be very difficult for a survivor of child sexual abuse to talk about what happened to them.  Many survivors cannot or do not talk about the abuse right away, and sometimes they can’t even remember about the abuse until they are adults.

Some adult survivors think that because the abuse happened when they were a child that it is too late to begin talking about what happened and to heal.  This is not true!  It is never too late to begin to heal.

How will being abused as a child impact people as adults?

Abuses impacts different people in different ways, and there may be some survivors who feel little impact in their adult lives.  Other people may experience some negative impacts, such as generalized anxiety or fear, depression, difficulty with intimate relationships, difficulty trusting themselves or others and an increased risk for using drugs or alcohol.

Each person does things to cope in their own way, and each person does what they need to in order to survive the abuse.

What does the healing process look like?

Every person responds to trauma in a different way, and there is no one “right” way to heal.  A person may experience some of the following stages and emotions, and others may not.

  • Recognizing that healing is possible.  Survivors of abuse are not alone, it is never too late to talk about the abuse or ask for help.
  • The decision to heal.  The decision to heal from child sexual abuse is a powerful and positive choice.  It is a commitment to a journey, and for some it may take longer than they expected.
  • The Emergency Stage.  During this stage, the abuse may be all that the survivor can think about and it may feel as though their life is constantly in crisis.  This stage may feel very uncomfortable, but it is important that the survivors knows that it will come to an end.
  • Remembering.  Some people may have always had memories of the abuse, but for others they may have tried to minimize or stuff it away and forget about the abuse.
  • Believing the abuse happened.  As children, we sometimes deny that bad or scary things are happening because they are too hard to deal with or understand.  As adults, it can still be hard to face the reality of the abuse and to recognize the different ways it has impacted us.
  • Breaking the silence.  Speaking out about the abuse can be a very powerful step for survivors, and one that takes a great deal of courage.  Some choose to tell a counselor, some a family member or partner and others choose to speak out at a public event.
  • Understanding that the abuse is not their fault.  Abuse is never the fault of the person being abused.
  • Connecting to the child within.  It is important for the survivor to connect to the child that was hurt by the abuse, and to confront that pain and their fears.
  • Grieving.  Grief is a natural part of the healing process.  The survivor may grieve for the ways they were hurt, for not being protected or for missing out on their childhood.
  • Anger.  This is another natural response to abuse, but it is important that the survivor does not turn all of the anger inward toward themselves.  When addressed, anger can help guide people toward positive change.
  • Forgiveness?   Some people may want to forgive their abuser, but for others this is not a part of the healing process at all.
  • Spirituality.  For some survivors spirituality can be a source of comfort, inspiration, courage, love and strength during the healing process.
  • The process of change.  Survivors are faced with many changes during the healing process, and it can bring about a range of emotions.  It is important that the survivor be kind and take care of themselves during this process.
  • Resolution and moving on.  The healing process can be a long one, but there will come a point where the survivor feels like their life is more balanced and that they are no longer in constant crisis.  It is important for survivors to remember that there is no finish line to healing, they will have some good days and some hard days but the hard days will come less and less.
** The steps to healing were adapted from “Beginning to Heal: A First Book for Men and Women Who Were Sexually Abused As Children” by Ellen Bass and Laura Davis. 

F is for Facts – A to Z on Child Abuse Prevention

Children are abused on an epidemic level worldwide and sadly America’s numbers are gruesomely  high for a nation know as a world leader. I’ll give you the cold hard facts here and encourage you not to simply take my word for but to further educate yourself (AND OTHERS) using the sources links at the bottom of this post.

Note: Because national and state agencies collect and analyze their data in different ways, statistics will vary. Taking into account the under-reporting of abuse we can assume that these numbers would higher and NOT lower if all variables were removed.

 

THANK YOU FOR CARING!

 

THE FACTS:

  • Every year 6 million children will be part of a child abuse report.

  • About 30% of abused and neglected children will later abuse their own children.

  • Approximately 70% of children that die from abuse are under the age of 4.

  • Children who experience child abuse and neglect are 9 times more likely to become involved in criminal activity.

  • More than 90% of juvenile sexual abuse victims know their perpetrator in some way.

  • Child abuse occurs at every socioeconomic level, across ethnic and cultural lines, within all religions and at all levels of education.

  • In one study, about 80% of 21 year olds that were abused as children met the criteria for at least one psychological disorder.

  • 14% of men and 36% of women in prison were abused as children – twice the frequency of the general population.

  • Abused children are 25% more likely to experience teen pregnancy and more likely to engage in sexually risky behavior.

  • Parents who abuse alcohol and drugs are three times more likely to abuse their children and four times more likely to neglect them.

  • As many as two-thirds of the people in treatment for drug abuse reported being abuse or neglected as children.

  • Adolescents with a report of abuse or neglect are three times more likely to have a substance abuse disorder before they are 18 years old.

 

Borrowed from Spydersden.wordpress.com

Borrowed from Spydersden.wordpress.com

Sources:

  1. U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Administration for Children and Families, Administration on Children, Youth and Families, Children’s Bureau. (2013). Child Maltreatment 2012. Available from http://www.acf.hhs.gov/programs/cb/research-data-technology/statistics-research/child-maltreatment
  2. United States Government Accountability Office, 2011. Child maltreatment: strengthening national data on child fatalities could aid in prevention (GAO-11-599). Retrieved from http://www.gao.gov/new.items/d11599.pdf
  3. U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Administration for Children and Families Administration on Children, Youth and Families Children’s Bureau.Child Abuse and Neglect Fatalities 2011: Statistics and Interventions. Retrieved from http://www.childwelfare.gov/pubs/factsheets/fatality.pdf
  4. Snyder, Howard, N. (2000, July). Sexual assault of young children as reported to law enforcement: victim, incident, and offender characteristics. Retrieved from http://bjs.ojp.usdoj.gov/content/pub/pdf/saycrle.pdf
  5. Long – Term Consequences of Child Abuse and Neglect. Child Welfare Information Gateway.Washington, D.C.: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, 2013. Retrieved from http://www.childwelfare.gov/pubs/factsheets/long_term_consequences.cfm
  6. Fang, X., et al. The economic burden of child maltreatment in the United States and implications for prevention. Child Abuse & Neglect (2012), doi:10.1016/j.chiabu.2011.10.006 Retrieved from: http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0145213411003140
  7. Harlow, C. U.S. Department of Justice, Office of Justice Programs. (1999).Prior abuse reported by inmates and probationers (NCJ 172879) Retrieved from http://bjs.ojp.usdoj.gov/content/pub/pdf/parip.pdf
  8. National Council on Child Abuse and Family Violence. Parental Substance Abuse A Major Factor In Child Abuse And Neglect. Retrieved from http://www.nccafv.org/parentalsubstanceabuse.htm
  9. Swan, N. (1998). Exploring the role of child abuse on later drug abuse: Researchers face broad gaps in information. NIDA Notes, 13(2). Retrieved from the National Institute on Drug Abuse website: www.nida.nih.gov/NIDA_Notes/NNVol13N2/exploring.html
  10. Every Child Matters Education Fund. (2012). We can do better: Child abuse deaths in America (3rd ed.). Retrieved from http://www.everychildmatters.org/storage/documents/pdf/reports/can_report_august2012_final.pdf
  11. Office on Child Abuse and Neglect, Children’s Bureau. Goldman, J., Salus, M. K., Wolcott, D., Kennedy, K. Y. (2003) A Coordinated Response to Child Abuse and Neglect: The Foundation for Practice, Chapter 5, retrieved from: https://www.childwelfare.gov/pubs/usermanuals/foundation/foundatione.cfm
  12. Wilson, E., Dolan, M., Smith, K., Casanueva, C., & Ringeisen, H. (2012). NSCAW Child Well-Being Spotlight: Adolescents with a History of Maltreatment Have Unique Service Needs That May Affect Their Transition to Adulthood. OPRE Report #2012-49, Washington, DC: Office of Planning, Research and Evaluation, Administration for Children and Families, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. Retrieved from: http://www.acf.hhs.gov/sites/default/files/opre/youth_spotlight_v7.pdf
  13. Amy B. Silverman, Helen Z. Reinherz, Rose M. Giaconia, The long-term sequelae of child and adolescent abuse: A longitudinal community study, Child Abuse & Neglect, Volume 20, Issue 8, August 1996, Pages 709-723. retrieved from: http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/0145213496000592

 

A is for ADVOCACY

A great beginning to this A to Z Child Abuse Prevention project is ADVOCACY.

Advocacy – the act or process of supporting a cause or proposal: the act or process of advocating something

There are many causes out there and none can prove to be more important than those designed to protect our children. I say “our children” because all the children belong to all of us. There is no avenue to escape responsibility for those who come after us. Even if you don’t have children of your own, the children that are here and the ones to come will be your neighbors, your doctors, your bus drivers, the spouses of your future children. What happens to OUR children can and will affect you.

To keep the message simple I’ll simply state: If there is something you care about, believe that you can make a difference, and be an advocate. Just Do It.

You’ll think of a hundred reasons why you can’t or shouldn’t. A dozen scenarios that would be a better time or circumstance than now to take action will come to mind. Some convince themselves that a person as insignificant as them could not make a difference in a cause so big. I know these are lies. Lies I’ve told. Lies I’ve leaned on.

There is just no excuse for not doing the right thing. For standing by and doing nothing. Not when there is a need you know in your heart is true and not when all the negatives lie within NOT doing something.

To be clear, I’m not suggesting anyone quit their job and volunteer full time at their favorite shelter or sell all their worldly possessions and donate the money to charity. The world doesn’t work that way because it is an all-around bad economic model.

What I am asking you to do is simply… DO SOMETHING. Even if it is just one small thing you can do, if you and thousands of other people do it then it becomes a big thing. It could be the hugest thing and you were part of it.

Again, ADVOCACY is a perfect start to this project because it is FREE. It’s just you and your voice, your words, your actions. You educating, motivating, fighting, changing minds and changing policy. It’s so easy I am doing it right now from the convenience of my couch and it cost me thirty minutes of my life.

So what can you do to be an advocate?

  • Research local child abuse prevention organizations and simply sign up to be on their mailing list. They don’t spam and their newsletters will let you know what you can  do, what they need and FUN events in your area for fundraising.
  • Put the link to an organization you are passionate about in your email signature. I’m not talking about an ad or a call to action but a simple line like this is free advertising which is commodity for strapped charities.

The Child Abuse Prevention Center changes lives and you could too.

  • Blog, Pin, Tweet, put a bumper sticker on your car, wear a charity t-shirt, get your next credit card branded with your charity (they get a donation) put a flyer in your shop window… put the word out there without saying a word. We are curious creatures and the more people thinking about and looking into the organizations you care about the better.
  • If you know someone, who knows someone, who knows someone who has connections or can affect change in your area talk to them and let them see how much Child Abuse Prevention means to you. Caring can be contagious and your genuine pleas could reach the right ears.
  • Write editorials in your local print and online newspapers and newsletters letting people know about your charity of choice and what they can do.
  • If you know of a need and know someone who can provide that need, make the connection and get the best deal possible for a good cause. Your connections could move something from unattainable to realistic or, even better, FREE.

ADVOCACY… You CAN Do It!

Standout Teen is Homeless

Standout Teen is Homeless

Standout Teen is Homeless

Some of us have so much STUFF in our homes we park our cars on the street because the garage is full to busting or pay rent to put our STUFF in storage but this boy has only what he can carry from shelter to shelter, bettering his life and smiling the whole time.

If you can find room in your heart, maybe you could find room in your life for a child with no home.  Take the time to consider foster care, adoption and donations to local nonprofits that support and rescue children.  You could very well save a life but you will most definitely change a life.

You Will Never Believe Where this Standout Teen Calls Home…  yahoo article
Kendal Benjamin wants to be known as a champion, someone who works hard and surpasses limitations. The 17-year-old senior at C.A. Johnson High School in Columbia, S.C. is an outstanding student and athlete, an all-star by any measure, yet he begins and ends his days among 17 other children in a homeless shelter.Benjamin recently moved away from his mother to allow her a chance to focus on her own life, and took refuge at Palmetto Place Children’s Shelter. From the teen’s perspective, his living circumstances make him persistent and push his ambitions higher.

“Sometimes you have to work through stuff, you have to persevere,” Benjamin tells the Good News Blog. “I’ve learned to be patient. The reason we’re in this situation is because my mom wasn’t patient.”

Benjamin and his mother have been moving from shelter to shelter since he was in fifth grade. He decided to go out on his own last November, which is when he found a spot at the children’s shelter. His mother, a former nurse, lost her job, and Benjamin felt she would have a better chance of getting on her feet if she didn’t have to take care of him.

“Me and my mom were struggling real bad, and she wasn’t able to support me,” he recalls. “There was no point in her trying to help me out when she couldn’t help herself out.”

As Benjamin’s father hasn’t been around most of his life, the high-schooler ventured out on his own, allowing his mom to move into a transitional home for adults.

Benjamin describes life in the shelter in the most positive way possible. The residence is a two-story home with a dining hall and living room. Benjamin shares a room with a few other kids, and they are served dinner each day. For other meals, the teen relies on school lunch, food stamps and donations.

Benjamin focuses on what’s pushing him forward. He makes good grades in school, his favorite course is science, and he plans to study athletic training at Gardner Webb University, if he doesn’t go into professional sports.

In extra-curricular activities, Benjamin is equally impressive. He plays defensive end in football and throws the discus and shot put in track. Last year, he ranked best in Track & Field at his school, placed third in the district championship, third in the region, and went on to compete at state. He also won “Mr. Junior” in his school pageant.

For Benjamin, education and athletics provide a “gateway” out of hardship.

“School offers me a place to do better,” he comments. “It gives me a chance so I can get out of here.”

Sharlee Dixon, Benjamin’s social worker at school, attests to his strengths as a student and person.

“What I think is special about Kendal is that he does not allow his situation to stop him,” she tells the Good News Blog. “I’ve seen children in the same situation take it as the worst thing in world. They can’t see a future for themselves. I’ve also seen them use it as a crutch. They have a sense of entitlement that the world owes them something. Kendal is the exact opposite of both of those. He doesn’t feel like we owe him anything, except to give him his education so he can move forward.”

According to Dixon, as many as 1,000 children are considered homeless in the area. Benjamin says he doesn’t bring up his home life with other kids unless they ask. He’s not ashamed, rather he doesn’t want to dwell on negativity. Now that his story is making headlines, he’s happy others can empathize with his journey.

“After the story came out, other kids have opened up to me,” Benjamin recalls. “They say,’ I’m homeless too, I’ve been going through the same thing. I’m glad you said something. I’m glad you did that.'”

He jokes, “I’m a local celebrity.”