This is the fifth installment of a six-week blog series about child abuse and how we are working to prevent it. As part of an extended National Child Abuse Prevention Month (#NCAPM), Children"s Center Prevention Coordinator Liliana Will and Development and Communications Director Pamela White have collaborated to take prevention materials and information to communities throughout Clackamas County. This post is another such collaboration.
Guest post by: Liliana Will, Prevention Coordinator and Pamela White, Development and Communications Director
April is officially recognized as National Child Abuse Prevention Month, and in April this year (as we have in April"s past), Children"s Center participated in a national event known as Pinwheels for Prevention sponsored by Prevent Child Abuse America. As part of that event we at Children"s Center planted 374 pinwheels, each representing a child who was seen at our clinic in 2020 for a child abuse assessment.
That being said, we consider every month to be a month for child abuse prevention! In fact, we believe that as a community we can all save lives and mitigate the impact of abuse-related trauma. In order to do so, however, we must be willing to open our eyes to, and increase our awareness and understanding of, the potential for child abuse and neglect.
In the past year, we have come together as a community to cope with, manage, and combat the COVID pandemic. We"ve changed our way of doing just about everything from shopping to education to the quick development of a lifesaving vaccine. Many of these "lessons learned" will probably permanently change life as we knew it. Unfortunately, hope and healing for abused children is not found in a vaccine.
While it may not be possible to eradicate child maltreatment through a vaccine, we know it is preventable! What is more, each of us can play a role in creating the safe environments needed for the healthy development of our future generation of parents, leaders, and community members.
To do this we all must take responsibility for implementing the 5-Steps to Protecting Children by:
Learning the facts. For example, did you know that 1 in 10 children are sexually abused before age 18 and that 90% of them know their abusers?
Minimizing the opportunity. This includes reducing the risk of abuse by eliminating or reducing isolated one-on-one situations in schools, churches, clubs, camps, and other places where children are exposed to adults that are not their caregivers.
Talking about it. While it might be uncomfortable, having age- appropriate conversations about bodies and touch, sex, and personal boundaries must be available for all kids.
Recognizing the signs. Signs of abuse are not always obvious so getting trained to recognize what to look for can make a real difference in a child"s life.
Reacting responsibly. Learning to respond appropriately to risky behavior, boundary violations, suspicions, or disclosures is very important. Equally important is learning when and where to make a report.