It’s up to every one of us to protect America ’s children. And it takes a community to protect the children in their neighborhood.
We must work to build strong communities where individuals, families, and children are valued and supported and protected.
You can create, enhance and maintain a healthy, strong and supportive community by:
Getting to know your neighbors – Develop an extended family in your neighborhood by creating friendly relationships with your neighbors. When you support each other, you don’t feel as overwhelmed.
Help a parent or family in stress – If you know a parent or a family in crisis or under stress, offer to help. You can baby-sit, help them with chores and errands, or suggest resources in the community that can help.
Remember the risk factors.
Risk factors of violence and neglect are greater in families when parents are involved in:
- Abuse alcohol or drugs
- Are isolated from their families
- Have difficulty controlling their anger and stress
- Seem uninterested in the care, feeding, or safety of their children
- Seem to have serious economic, housing, or personal problems
Reach out to children and parents in your community – Anything you do to support kids and parents in your family and extended community helps to reduce the likelihood of child abuse and neglect. Encouraging a child can build self-esteem. And if a child needs a safe haven or seems troubled … be supportive. Starting a Block Parent Program in your neighborhood can be a huge help to a child who needs help.
Get involved in a local school – Join the local PTA or mentor a child.
Raise the issue –
Call or write your elected officials to educate them about issues in your community and the need for child abuse prevention, intervention, and treatment programs.
Contact your local school district and faith community to encourage them to sponsor classes and support programs for new parents.
Keep your neighborhood safe. Start a Block Parenting Program and plan a local "National Community Night" that brings together neighbors, local businesses, firefighters, police, and others. Get to know everyone and all of the children in the community by holding events, and help keep your neighborhood and children safe.
Anything you do to support your community can strengthen families and reduce child abuse and neglect.
Learn how to recognize and report signs of children who have been victimized
Mentor parents by helping to model positive parenting skills
Help local child abuse prevention organizations distribute educational materials
Start or join a community coalition to prevent child abuse and neglect
Contact your elected officials and ask them to support funding for programs and policies that support children and families
Make a donation to an organization that works to prevent child abuse
Be an active community member – By building a strong community, participating in its programs and support community members you will become a stronger neighborhood.
Volunteer – Numerous opportunities exist in community or faith based organizations, health-care clinics or children's hospitals, childcare centers, or social service agencies and in tribal communities,
If you have expertise in these areas you can get involved in your community by creating and publicizing programs such as:
Parenting education seminars
Marriage strengthening seminars
Single/divorced parent programs
Substance abuse treatment programs
Parent support groups
Family resource centers
Recognize the warning signs –
Some of the warning signs that a child might be abused or neglected include:
Nervousness around adults
Aggression toward adults or other children
Inability to stay awake or to concentrate for extended periods
Sudden, dramatic changes in personality or activities
Acting out sexually or showing interest in sex that is not appropriate for his or her
Frequent or unexplained bruises or injuries
Report violence or neglect ... even if you only suspect it –
and keep reporting it— until something is done. Contact child protective services (in your local phone book) or your local police department.