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It’s tough to talk about.

Child abuse and neglect are tough to talk about.

The topic can make us uncomfortable. I know it does me.

But we can’t let child abuse and neglect remain in the shadows.

April is National Child Abuse Prevention Month. In Richmond, Greater Richmond SCAN (Stop Child Abuse Now) is hosting the 8th annual Prevent-a-Thon, April 17-22, to bring light to the issue of child abuse and how to prevent it.

Here are the facts.

In Virginia, from July 2014 to July 2015, nearly 50,000 children were reported as possible victims of abuse and neglect. Every 8 minutes a child in Virginia dies from abuse or neglect. In an average moment, 4,636 children are in foster care in Virginia. Not only does child abuse and neglect damage lives and destroy families, it costs an estimated $258 million per day in the US.

Child abuse is preventable.

Recognize the warning signs: We can learn to recognize the warning signs of potential or current abuse and neglect, such as: parents under chronic stress, children exhibiting negative and anxious behaviors, signs of physical abuse.

  • To learn how to recognize warning signs, specifically of child sexual abuse, join us this Thursday, April 21, for a Stewards of Children training, hosted at United Way, from 9am-12pm. Learn more and register here..

Seek out support services: We can encourage families under stress to call the 800-CHILDREN parent helpline for guidance. And if we suspect child abuse and neglect we can call our local social services department or call the Virginia Child Abuse and Neglect Hotline at 1-800-552-7096 (language line available).

Prevent future abuse and neglect: We can build protective factors for families and children by:

  • Educating parents about child development, appropriate behavior management, and safety precautions
  • Teaching children resiliency, and how to develop healthy coping, relationship, and communication skills
  • Protecting children by creating spaces and communities in which they feel safe

Talking about child abuse and neglect may be uncomfortable at first. Preventing it requires awareness, diligence, education, and responsible action. Undoubtedly, the safety and well-being of our most vulnerable children is worth that. Wouldn’t you agree?

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About the Author : Rebekah Holbrook


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