Helping the Weakest Among Us
Since 1983, April has been designated as Child Abuse Prevention Month, reminding all citizens to raise awareness of the issue of child abuse, neglect, and maltreatment. Victims often suffer in silence, which leads to an array of psychological and physical problems. For example, 1 in 10 Tarrant County children are the victims of sexual abuse before they are 18, and the vast majority of them know their assailant. Community members are often the only bridge to safety those victims have.
Most child abuse cases are discovered by educators, an element of the conversation which has been further complicated by this exceptional period of social distancing. With quarantine in full effect, we see an increase in isolation, where tension and stress are becoming further intensified by the closures of schools as well as the darkening climate of economic uncertainty. Across the nation, advocacy groups are bracing for a surge of reported cases of abuse. Kids are often home with their abusers; therefore, community awareness remains a vital element for ending the cycle.
It is essential for society to consistently commit to actively preventing child abuse and neglect, either by volunteering time, donating, or merely acting as an advocate to those struggling. Throughout April, supporters are encouraged to wear blue, expressing their commitment by sharing the hashtag “#silenceendshere” on social media. The campaign has as its symbol a pinwheel to represent the childhood wonder and innocence that every child deserves, but sadly many are never provided.
Alliance for Children, Tarrant County’s children advocacy center, has helped more than 58,000 area kids over the past 28 years. With six offices countywide – in Fort Worth, Arlington, Hurst, and Lakeside – they help coordinate alongside law enforcement, Cook Children’s Medical Center, JPS Health, Department of Family and Protective Services, District Attorney’s Office, and Tarrant County Juvenile Services to manifest best possible outcomes for children in unsafe situations.
In the most recently available data from the Department of Family and Protective Services, there were reports of nearly six thousand cases of child abuse and neglect. Communication lies at the heart of prevention, so parents and children must discuss physical boundaries and interpersonal discomfort. You can find their guide to Child Abuse Prevention Month at https://www.allianceforchildren.org/child-abuse-prevention-month.
Alliance for Children also provides prevention resources, including videos and worksheets, to help navigate these conversations. Topics include giving appropriate names to private parts of the body, monitoring children’s phone and internet use, or teaching concepts of welcome and unwelcome touches. They have also added advice specifically for struggles and concerns inherent to Covid-19 and working from home. https://www.allianceforchildren.org/prevention-resources?fbclid=IwAR3MWvfCy-IUSnkmKXLS5nlpLfhmAQ6pdFrbYCZ5HJQVyp2shohUUvkrxqY
We owe it to the weakest among us to have these difficult conversations with our loved ones. More discussion will lead to opening the lines of communication, furthering dialogue, and ultimately developing advocates for the next generation. There will be plenty of opportunities to volunteer and get involved in more active ways once we may socialize again. Still, you can always donate to Alliance for Children to help them with their work on the front lines making the world safer for area kids, https://allianceforchildren.ejoinme.org/makeadonation.
To further support Child Abuse Prevention Month, there are links to pinwheel crafts, for coloring: http://preventchildabuse.org/wp-content/uploads/2016/02/PinwheelColoringSheet_National.pdf, as well as making your pinwheel: http://preventchildabuse.org/wp-content/uploads/2016/02/MakeYourPinwheel_National.pdf.
An Austin native, Lyle Brooks relocated to Fort Worth in order to immerse himself in the burgeoning music scene and the city’s rich cultural history, which has allowed him to cover everything from Free Jazz to folk singers. He’s collaborated as a ghostwriter on projects focusing on Health Optimization, Roman Lawyers, and an assortment of intriguing subjects requiring his research.