By Mary Parker Draper, Extension Agent – Smith County
April is a beautiful time of year in Tennessee. Trees begin to show signs of new growth and our hillsides come alive with beautiful shades of green, purple, yellow, and white. In many ways, spring brings hope and new promise in our lives.
It is also during this time of promise and new opportunity that we bring awareness and share strategies for preventing child abuse and neglect. Since 1983, the U.S. has recognized April as National Child Abuse Prevention Month “to acknowledge the importance of families and communities working together to prevent child abuse and neglect, and to promote the social and emotional well-being of children and families,” according to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.
Adverse childhood experiences and forms of abuse or neglect affect a child’s developing brain and can have lifelong health consequences. Sadly, 28% of children have experienced some form of physical trauma, abuse, or violence. Child abuse is a widespread problem in the United States. According to the National Committee for Prevention of Child Abuse, more than 3 million children are abused each year.
Without support, these traumatic experiences can lead to trouble with school, relationships, or alcohol and drugs. Many children who have been abused develop some type of psychological problem. Anxiety, depression, eating disorders, obsessive-compulsive disorder, co-dependency, or even a lack of human connections stem from forms of child abuse or neglect. In some cases, children who have been abused repeat the cycle and become child abusers. Therefore, awareness and community support to help stop child abuse and neglect is imperative. Just as our beautiful spring season offers the idea of hope and new beginnings, promoting and supporting National Child Abuse Prevention brings hope and opportunity for those who may be suffering from some form of abuse.
In 2016, President Barack Obama issued a Presidential Proclamation stating: “During National Child Abuse Prevention Month, we recommit to giving every child a chance to succeed, ensuring that every child grows up in a safe, stable, and nurturing environment free from abuse and neglect.”
Recommit to help support the children in your life and our community. Below are a few tips from the Department of Health and Humans Services (https://www.childwelfare.gov/pubPDFs/trauma_ts.pdf) to help your child heal from trauma:
- Help your child feel safe.
- Stay calm and keep a regular routine for meals, playtime, and bedtime.
- Prepare children in advance for any changes or new experiences.
- Encourage (don’t force) children to talk about their feelings but 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.
- Spend time together as a family.
- Find help when needed. Find a mental health professional who knows proven strategies to help children cope with trauma.
Abuse is a crime and must be reported. Everyone is required by Tennessee law to report any known or suspected incidence of child abuse. Children are at risk of further abuse if not reported. To report child abuse and neglect, contact the local county office of the Tennessee Department of Children’s Services or local law enforcement officials.
- Fudge Pie
- 1 stick butter
- 1/4 cup cocoa
- 1/2 cup evaporated milk
- 1 1/2 cups sugar
- 2 eggs, beaten
Beat eggs and add sugar, then add milk. Melt butter and add cocoa. Add mixtures together and pour into unbaked pie shell. Bake at 350 degrees for about 45 minutes until pie is almost set. Submitted by Marcia Tisdale, Elmwood/Chestnut Mound FCE Club.