By Michelle Sorenson
All kids deserve to grow up in a safe, healthy and nurturing environment. As adults, we have a responsibility to ensure all children, from infants to teens, feel that sense of security. April is National Child Abuse Prevention Month and a great reminder of the small things we can do to foster environments that help children reach their fullest potential. Studies show that children raised in loving and supportive environments are more likely to prosper academically and financially, becoming successful contributing members of society (Prevent Child Abuse Wisconsin, 2019).
Understand Child Abuse
The state of Wisconsin recognizes six categories of child maltreatment, which include physical abuse, neglect, sexual abuse, emotional abuse, the manufacture of methamphetamine, and abuse to unborn children (Prevent Child Abuse Wisconsin, 2019). Knowing how to recognize the signs of abuse and how to report a suspected problem is a powerful tool to safeguarding our children. There are several resources available through preventchildabusewi.org or dcf.wisconsin.gov to educate yourself on being aware and taking action to prevent child abuse and neglect.
Being a parent is one of the hardest and most stressful jobs out there. Being a supportive friend to a mom, dad or caregiver is one of the easiest things you can do. It can be as simple as having a conversation over a cup of coffee or inviting a neighbor with a new baby to go for a walk, making dinner to help a family on those busy nights or offering to babysit so the parents can get away for a few hours. The size of the gesture doesn’t matter, it is the feeling of support that helps parents feel less stressed and enables them to foster a loving and safe environment for their children.
Organizations and communities that encourage child abuse prevention efforts help foster environments where children and families feel supported. Organizations can host events like a game or movie night that give families a place to connect with others. Communities can come together to collect items like clothing and food for those in need. Faith-based organizations can bring people together to share a meal and form new friendships. These types of opportunities provide families an outlet to come together and support one another.
“The youth of today are the leaders of tomorrow.” –Nelson Mandela
It is our job as adults to ensure a bright future for every child. When we focus on child abuse prevention, we help ensure children are growing up in the best possible environment, and we give them the opportunity to become successful adults that positively contribute to the greater good of their home, their community and the world.
Michelle Sorenson is the Human Resources Generalist at the YMCA of the Fox Cities. She serves on the Child Safety Committee which is focused on providing a safe environment and creating a culture of safety for every person at the Y. Learn more about youth programs at the Y by visiting ymcafoxcities.org.