Family

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.

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. 

C is for 1-800-4-A-CHILD – A to Z on Child Abuse

The Childhelp National Child Abuse Hotline

1-800-4-A-CHILD

Childhelp National Hotline

1-800-4-A-CHILD Childhelp National Hotline

Children are helpless and unable to make informed decisions. Lacking the strength to resist or escape a violation they have every right to expect the protection and support of adults. When this doesn’t happen there is a betrayal of trust that has a profound effect on the mind and actions of the child. It’s important that steps are taken to provide a renewed sense of security within the child and heal the damage done to the fullest extent it can be healed.

Part of this process has to include counseling.  A person, let alone a child, cannot be expected to handle the aftermath of abuse with the reasoning and coping skills one would apply to other negative interactions in their lives. Abuse can have lifelong effects on victims and those who witness abuse and treating these problems is no small task.

In the case of child abuse the victim does not understand what and why this is happening; nor do they have the power or social awareness to stop it once it has begun. This makes treating children very complex when you add that a child may be unable to say how they have been hurt or how.

When victimized at a young age, children and adults seek therapy for a many reasons that are fallout from the abuse and not just the history of abuse itself. Immediately and oftentimes later in life other problems will hinder healing like substance abuse, anxiety disorders, eating disorders, depression and the inability to have healthy relationships on any level. Counseling seeks to help victims deal with the abuse and with the psychological and social problems that can occur as a result. Undoing lifelong damage is near impossible when tackled alone.

Counselors and therapist are trained to utilize tools and processes whereby with careful observation and gentle interactions they can guide the victim to a point where fear, confusion, pain and betrayal can be dealt with. Additionally, people participating in this healing process realize that any progress made is just a small part of a long and complicated process as the child grows and encounters situations that reawaken fears and open scars that need re-processing for more closure and understanding.

For victims of abuse, counseling is not an option.

REPORT ABUSE AND INSIST ON BEING INFORMED OF THE RESOURCES AVAILABLE TO VICTIMS.

Not every person is expected to know what to do when child abuse happens.  So how do you find the right help?

Childhelp

Childhelp can help.

 

From the Childhelp Website:

The Childhelp National Child Abuse Hotline 1-800-4-A-CHILD (1-800-422-4453) is dedicated to the prevention of child abuse. Serving the United States, its territories, and Canada, the Hotline is staffed 24 hours a day, 7 days a week with professional crisis counselors who, through interpreters, can provide assistance in 170 languages. The Hotline offers crisis intervention, information, literature, and referrals to thousands of emergency, social service, and support resources. All calls are anonymous and confidential.

What to expect when calling the Hotline

When calling 1-800-4-A-CHILD (1-800-422-4453), a qualified crisis counselor will answer and assist you, if you:

  • Need help and want to talk to a counselor.
  • Are in physical or emotional crisis and need support and encouragement
  • Connect you to the best possible resources in your area.
  • Have questions about the signs of child abuse.
  • Need to find out how to report known or suspected abuse.
  • Have questions about the reporting process and what you might expect through the process.
  • Want to learn about Childhelp programs that will address you or your child’s needs.
  • Want to learn about resources available to parents, grandparents & caregivers.
  • Need emotional support as survivor of abuse.
  • Want a referral to an agency, counseling or other services near where you live.
  • Want literature mailed to you. (Allow two weeks for delivery via the U.S. Postal Service.)
  • Want information on how to make a donation to Childhelp.

Childhelp crisis counselors cannot come to the home where the abuse is happening and take away the child or teen who is in danger of being hurt and put them in a new home.

The Childhelp Hotline crisis counselors can’t make the child abuse report for you, but we are here to help you through it.

 

 

Day 7 – What did you learn today? Who did you love? What made you laugh?

A three-part question, huh? I’m trying to not re-read the 35 questions since I embarked on this challenge but if the 35 questions is actually more like 100 questions I might have to block more time for this every middle of the night.

What did I learn today?

I learned that it is time for me to take a break. It happens periodically. Maybe twice a year where I just have used up all my patience and compassion and just want to tell everybody they can go jump off a cliff. And I mean everyone. The guy who knocked the chips off the shelf at the grocery store and looked down at them and kept walking. My teenager who called his teacher a “snitch” in class today when some other kid got sent to the principal’s office (really??). All one year olds who have learned this high-pitched scream that I imagine must be what a dog whistle sounds like to dogs. Just every one… off a cliff. Metaphorically.

This isn’t good for anybody! Ever heard the saying “If momma’s not happy, nobody’s happy”? In my house everyone knows this to be true. Momma is usually happy but I haven’t been taking care of myself. Too many projects, too many late nights, no breaks. Obviously if I go on 5 hours of sleep EVERY night for months eventually something is going to give. So its time to give myself a massage appointment. Right on to the To Do list. Number 43 – make and keep massage appointment.

Who did I love?

Despite my lowered mental capacity today, boy oh boy did I love up on the babies (3 ¾ year old daughter and 16 month old son in the smallest bearable measurement of age for non-parents). They are with me all day every day and though they drive me utterly insane they are also incredibly beautiful and funny and all the best and worst parts of me in these little huggable packages. Plus my grandma is here visiting and she is a super sassy 77 year old version of me so she’s been getting love all day too. In between all the messes and screaming and cleaning and cooking (the kids, not the grandma) it’s been a love fest in here today. Not too different from any other day.

What made me laugh?

Oh my goodness… if you could sit in my living room and listen to my grandmother’s stories you’d cry laughing. She’s so funny. Such a spitfire. And she’s hit that age where she can do or say just about anything she wants and you just have to take it so with no limit she is really too much to handle in the best way possible. I can’t wait until I get that age.

My cousin is getting married this weekend and handsome man that he is all tall, dark and athletic with the light eyes the ladies love. Well he has found him a, by all other accounts, plain, average looking wife but my grandmother just will not stop about how she looks like a big o’ strong man. In describing her she pointed to my 6ft 4in ex-linebacker husband and said she had shoulders like him and could move this couch all by herself if she wanted to. It’s like having my own comedy show every night she is here. It really is just such a blessing to have a day that is Great Grandma, Grandma, Mom and Daughter all together so I’m enjoying this immensely.

Day 3 – What are your values and are you being true to them?

This question is really over a dozen questions once you break down the different areas and started an avalanche of sorts of multiple thought streams that I need to rein in. There were several categories from spiritual to work to friends but I’ll go with family and try to keep it under 500 words!

The article states that when we don’t act congruently with what we value, symptoms of discomfort arise. I’d have to agree with that so let’s hope we are heading into a comfortable self-analysis because I don’t drink so if this blogging experiment goes all wrong there’s no numbing the pain.

What are my values and am I being true to them?

We’ll start with a list and work in the ‘am I being true to it’ answers to keep it neat.

Family Rules

Family

1. Responsibility – This is near to the core of my existence. So much so that I’m convinced that if it were not for the birth of my son there is little hope that I would have made it past my 21st birthday. I had a strong sense of responsibility towards my family, in the face of overwhelming apathy as long as I could remember. I couldn’t stand my mom or my brothers at different intervals of adolescents but if you said something even remotely critical about them I’d likely try to pull your tongue out. So while I was loyal to these one sided relationships, they gave me nothing in return. But when I first held my son, and each of my babies since, the responsibility to love, care for, protect and raise them became my reason for being. In this I have never wavered or slacked and I have been true to this my whole life.

2. Love above all things – when I think of family, outside of my own children, I’d have to say that it is very over-rated. Being tied to and responsible for all these people who don’t care about you; that is my experience of family so everything else I see on television or read in book and especially the smiley “yeah for family” stuff posted on Facebook always seemed very make-believe to me. I can see how you could have it with the family you pick (husband and kids) but not with the one you are born to. Given that this was my reality, I feel like I am still very true to this value as I still love (verb love) them all the best I can. If they hurt, then I hurt because I love them, outside of all the BS, and above all else.

3. Faith in God – There are a set of morals that I feel are necessary for you to be a good person and live a fulfilled life that honors the gift of your existence and those morals are conveniently listed in my religion. There is a lot of extra stuff in there also but I try to not let that distract me from the fact that there is a God. You don’t have to believe in him for that statement to be true but my life is enhanced when I acknowledge him. My families faith in God means to me that we are all working from the same set of rules and expectations and I find great security in that and nurture it in my husband and children staying true to this value.

I’m feeling a little like after written finals in high school where you are pretty sure you answered the questions correctly but you could be totally off and jacking up your grade. But this is worse because I’ll never get a grade so I’ll never know! I’ll just say it’s enough that I’m four days into my self-imposed blog challenge and I have three post so just on participation points I’m pulling a good A- or B+ and I’m happy with that.

650 words… 150 words over my promise… geez… okay… B-