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Being Mindful of Our Children’s Safety and Our Wellbeing During a Time of Crisis

You are doing everything to protect your child from COVID-19. Now, ask yourself, what are you doing to protect your child from abuse? April is Child Abuse Prevention Month. A time when professionals bring awareness to protect children and strengthen families. A report of child abuse is made every 10 seconds. We must highlight the importance of safeguarding our children and taking care of our wellbeing.

THE IMPACT
As schools have closed, caregivers are experiencing extreme stress and making difficult decisions about childcare. The new “normal” has resulted in families experiencing additional anxiety, economic vulnerability, and, for many, a loss of income. Studies have shown that these high-risk factors have been associated with a higher probability of child abuse. You are a powerful advocate for your child, and your most important tool is to be aware and ask questions.

KEEPING OUR CHILDREN SAFE
Children deserve to be raised in an environment that is healthy, supportive, and safe. Therefore, we must remain alert for signs of abuse and neglect. Some of the common signs are:

– Withdrawal from friends or enjoyable activities
– Fear, anxiety, or a sudden loss of self-confidence
– Unexplained injuries such as bruises, burns, or fractures
– Changes in behavior or appearance such as anger, aggression, or school performance
– Self-harm or suicide attempts
– Knowledge of sexual behavior and language that is not age-appropriate

Some signs of abuse can be challenging to detect. Perpetrators of abuse are frequently manipulative and convince children to remain silent about their abuse. A child may feel ashamed, guilty, or embarrassed about the trauma they have experienced, making disclosure a complicated process.

WHAT SHOULD I DO?
If you suspect your child is being abused, speak up. It is normal to feel overwhelmed. It is crucial that you remain calm and provide unconditional support. Let your child use their own words. Resist asking follow-up questions because it can confuse them and make it harder to disclose their victimization. Validate the courage to disclose and reassure that it is not their fault. Report suspected abuse immediately by calling the Texas Abuse Hotline at 1-800-252-5400, reporting online at www.txabusehotline.org, or calling your local law enforcement agency.

POSITIVE PARENTING
Show your child how you are coping with the pandemic and routinely check how they are feeling. Parents can best provide support to their children when they are calm. Maintaining a normal routine during a time of crisis provides children with a sense of security. Let your child know that they can talk to you. Allow them to ask questions and answer them in an age-appropriate manner. Try your best to stay engaged and connected as a family. Take this time to build stronger relationships.

TAKE CARE OF YOURSELF
We thrive on certainty. However, every aspect of what we knew as normal has been altered by the pandemic. In times like these, our mental health can be compromised. To be able to care for others, we must first care for ourselves. Utilize coping strategies such as exercising, listening to music, journaling, and meditating. Stay connected with others through social media and phone calls. You are strong, your child is strong, and we are stronger together.

WE ARE THEIR VOICE
We must have these critical conversations with our children and stay alert. The Children’s Assessment Center will continue to focus on the prevention and intervention of child abuse and provide resources and hope to families in need.

Thank you to Children’s Assessment Center for providing us with information for this blog post. For more information, visit our website at www.cachouston.org.

Posted by on 17 Apr 2020