April is National Child Abuse Prevention Month and CASA of Lancaster County is raising awareness of the need for more dedicated members of the community to step up and become CASA Volunteers to help break the cycle of child abuse and neglect, through supporting children and their families.
Step one to preventing child abuse is achieving a world where victims are heard and believed when they say that they have been abused. Here are some ways to get involved during child abuse prevention month that you can choose to do all year round.
Learn to recognize when a child is being abused, whether physical or mental. In Pennsylvania there were 44,063 reported incidents of suspected child abuse and neglect through the Childline and Abuse Registry during the year 2018 alone. 90% of survivors knew their perpetrator and children with disabilities are three times more likely to be sexually abused. Learning strategies to minimize opportunity for abuse is crucial. Preventchildabusepa.org has more information on how you can do this, and be sure to share this information with others.
Talking to children
Talking about the issue and creating trust with children early can make a huge difference. Teach children to trust their gut, speak openly with them, and be sure to emphasize that abuse is never their fault. Tell them that they are not alone and believe them when they tell you something is not right.
Spread the Word
Social media platforms like Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook are great outlets to share your resources and facts about child abuse prevention. Prevent Child Abuse America has designated the pinwheel as the national symbol for child abuse prevention. Please help spread awareness of the realities of child abuse by displaying a pinwheel in your workplace, organization, or community.
Report Suspected Abuse
Keeping children safe by supporting families and reporting suspected abuse or neglect is everyone’s responsibility. Children need support of an adult to get the required help. Listen and validate when a child reveals abuse. This call to action is not just for families and those who work on behalf of children; rather, it is for anyone who is connected to a child. If you don’t provide help or report abuse, the abuse will likely continue. Please join us in keeping a watchful eye on our children. To make a report in Pennsylvania, call ChildLine at: 1-800-932-0313. For resources and helpful links visit www.childhelp.org
Become A Foster Parent To Kids Who Are Victims of Child Abuse
All types of foster parents are needed in every part of our country because every child needs a safe and nurturing home. Being a successful foster parent is hard work and it requires opening yourself and your home. The key qualification is being able to meet the physical, emotional and developmental needs of a child. Foster care agencies are able to help you evaluate whether this is something you might be able to do. They do this through a process that helps you and the agency evaluate your capabilities. The Child Welfare Information Gateway - State Resources is a great place to find contact information for your state.
Be A CASA Volunteer
The effects of child abuse are devastating and typically long-lasting, including a lifetime of potential struggles with mental health issues, low self-esteem, increased risk of drug abuse/addiction. CASA serves as the “eyes and ears” of the court and speaks up for the children who don’t have a voice one child at a time. CASA makes a tremendous difference in the lives of children who are facing very difficult circumstances and ultimately reduces their troubling statistics. With your help, an abused or neglected child can break free from an overworked system and find a forever safe home.
To start your CASA journey and help break that cycle of abuse and neglect for the children in your community please visit www.casalancaster.org and follow us on social media.