Stand Up, Speak Out
It's not a fun subject, nor an occasion I like to think about, but it is important. In addition to the start of spring and the Easter holiday, April happens to be recognized nationally as "Child Abuse Prevention Month."
If you are a new parent, it's probably the furthest thought from your mind. Instead, you are thinking about the basics: eating, sleeping (or hoping for some sleep – lol), and simply keeping your little one safe.
Abuse? It's probably unimaginable.
When I was 8 months pregnant, the hubby and I were out and about, making a quick stop at our local grocery store. Most likely, it was for more pineapple which was THE food I longed for throughout pregnancy (What are you longing for these days?). I remember pulling into a parking space and then getting a call from my sister on my cell phone. As I sat talking in the early evening darkness, a man came out of the store with his little boy. I remember watching in disbelief as the minivan opened beside us and this little preschooler was pushed in and his dad began to yell. I remember being frozen in fear as I watched this little guy being pushed around and slapped. I remember hearing this little boy cry.
I remember opening my car door and seeing the startled look on that man's face. Did he think no one was watching? Did he think no one could hear? I didn't even think. I immediately gave him a piece of my mind.
WHAT COULD THIS CHILD HAVE DONE TO DESERVE THIS? What could I do to help?
The man immediately stopped. He didn't have any more words. I finished my words and then left, walking to the store.
I was shaken. My husband was dazed by my behavior.
I grabbed a cart and then turned around and walked back out of the store. I began to fear that this child was receiving more of the same, or worse, and that I had only fueled dad's temper more. I re-approached that van. I apologized for my words. The man apologized for his actions. He told me he had lost his temper. He didn't mean to do what he had done. The child sat quietly. I breathed. I walked away. Again.
That incident still haunts me. I think of that child and wonder about his life today.
Was this a one-time incident? Was this part of an on-going cycle of abuse? What else should I have done? What else could I have done?
Child abuse is defined as the mistreatment of a child by an adult, whether it be a parent, caregiver, or other. Child abuse takes many forms and can include physical violence, neglect, sexual assault, or emotional brutality.
Most of us can never imagine how or why this would occur to children. Unfortunately, it does. In fact, over 3 million reports of child abuse are made each year in the United States.
It's time for each of us to stand up and speak out on behalf of our children, as well as for ALL children.
What can YOU do to protect your children? What can you do to protect A CHILD?
We can start by being vocal.
We can start by recognizing abuse.
We can start by reporting to our local police department or other family agency if there is a situation we question.
Protecting our children and providing a safe, nurturing, and loving place to grow is the best thing we can do to support their development.
Take a moment to think of your child. Take a moment to think about all children in your community.
Then, take a moment to stand up and speak out.
If we all take that moment, we are sure to make a difference in the life of a child.