Here is what’s known about child abuse: it can happen in any family and in any neighborhood.
Based on federal data, an estimated one in four children experience some form of child abuse or neglect in their lifetimes.
According to University of Rochester Medical School, studies have shown that child abuse crosses all boundaries of income, race, ethnic heritage, and religious faith. The incidence is higher in the following groups:
- Families in which the parents are in their mid-20s
- High school dropouts or lack a high school diploma
- Families living below the poverty level or financially stressed
- Families stressed because of a loss of job or home
- Families with a history of intergenerational abuse
- Families with alcohol, or substance abuse problems
- Families with a history of depression
- Families with spouse abuse
So how do we stop child abuse?
Prevent Child Abuse America offers these tips for stopping child abuse:
- Try to understand your children. Learn how kids behave and what they can do at different ages. Have realistic expectations and be reasonable if children fall short.
- Keep your children healthy. Denying children food, sleep, or healthcare is abuse by neglect.
- Get help with alcohol or drug problems. Keep children away from anyone who abuses those substances.
- Watch your words. Angry or punishing language can leave emotional scars for a lifetime.
- Get control of yourself before disciplining a child. Set clear rules so the child knows what to expect. Avoid physical punishment.
- Take a time-out. Stop if you begin to act out frustration or other emotions physically. Find someone to talk with or watch your kids while you take a walk. Call a child abuse prevention hotline if you are worried you may hit your child.
- Make your home a violence-free zone. Turn off violent TV shows and don’t let kids stay under the same roof with an abusive adult.
- Join a support program for new parents.
- Take regular breaks from your children. This will give you a release from the stress of parenting full-time.
University of Rochester reminds us that child abuse often repeats itself in the next generation. By doing what you can to prevent it today, you can help save children’s lives far into the future.
(Photo credit: childwelfare.gov)