If you didn’t know yet, April is National Child Abuse Prevention Month and In-N-Out’s Foundation is making a real difference for kids who need help in our communities. When you donate to the In-N-Out Foundation, they will match your donation by 3 times! You can donate at www.INOFDONATE.com or any of their restaurants.
With the community’s help the In-N-Out Foundation donated over $1.8 million dollars to 300 organizations in 2013. 100% of every dollar raised through their collective efforts went directly to children in need. Let’s help make 2014 even better.
In 2012, about 3.4 million reports were made to child protective services concerning the safety and well-being of approximately 6.3 million children. As a result of these reports, a nationally estimated 686,000 children were found to be victims of child abuse or neglect.
What Is Child Abuse and Neglect?
Child abuse or neglect often takes place in the home at the hands of a person the child knows well—a parent, relative, babysitter, or friend of the family. There are four major types of child maltreatment. Although any of the forms may be found separately, they often occur together:
- Neglect is failure to provide for a child’s basic needs.
- Physical abuse is physical injury as a result of hitting, kicking, shaking, burning, or otherwise harming a child.
- Sexual abuse is any situation where a child is used for sexual gratification. This may include indecent exposure, fondling, rape, or commercial exploitation through prostitution or the production of pornographic materials.
- Emotional abuse is any pattern of behavior that impairs a child’s emotional development or sense of self-worth, including constant criticism, threats, and rejection.
Why Does Child Abuse Occur?
Child abuse and neglect affect children of every age, race, and income level. However, research has identified many factors relating to the child, family, community, and society that are associated with an increased risk of child abuse and neglect. Studies also have shown that when multiple risk factors are present, the risk is greater. Some of the most common risk factors include the following:
- Immaturity: Young parents may lack experience with children or be unprepared for the responsibility of raising a child.
- Unrealistic expectations: A lack of knowledge about normal child development or behavior may result in frustration and, ultimately, abusive discipline.
- Stress: Families struggling with poverty, unstable housing, divorce, or unemployment may be at greater risk.
- Substance abuse: The effects of substance use, as well as time, energy, and money spent obtaining drugs or alcohol; significantly impair parents’ abilities to care for their children.
- Intergenerational patterns of abuse. Parents’ own experiences of childhood trauma impact their relationships with their children.
- Isolation: Effective parenting is more difficult when parents lack a supportive partner, family, or community.
These circumstances, combined with the inherent challenges of raising children, can result in otherwise well-intentioned parents causing their children harm or neglecting their needs. But that doesn’t mean that ALL parents/ families who experience these circumstances will abuse or neglect their children, there’s always exceptions.
What You Can Do
- Help your child feel safe. Stay calm and keep a regular routine for meals, play time, and bedtime. Prepare children in advance for any changes or new experiences.
- Encourage (don’t force) children to talk about their feelings. Tell children it is normal to have many feelings after a trauma. Listen to their stories, take their reactions seriously, correct any misinformation about the traumatic event, and reassure them that what happened was not their fault.
- Provide extra attention, comfort, and encouragement. Spending time together as a family may help children feel safe. Younger children may want extra hugs or cuddling. Follow their lead and be patient if they seem needy.
- Teach children to relax. Encourage them to practice slow breathing, listen to calming music, or say positive things (“That was scary, but I’m safe now”).
- Be aware of your own response to trauma. Parents’ history of trauma and feelings about their child’s experience can influence how they cope. Seek support if you need it.
- Remember that everyone heals differently from trauma. Respecting each child’s own course of recovery is important.
- Find help when needed. If your child’s problems last more than a few weeks, or if they get worse rather than better, ask for help. Find a mental health professional who knows proven strategies to help children cope with trauma.