Stillwater News Press

Health & Environment

April 26, 2014

Live Well 04-27-14

Make a commitment to prevent child abuse

The end of April is fast approaching, and with it the end of Child Abuse Prevention Month.

We set this time aside to reflect on how child abuse affects our community as well as learn how to act so we can best protect our children. The pinwheels on the courthouse lawn, a city proclamation and blue child cut-outs at various Stillwater agencies remind us that over 300 cases of abuse and neglect were reported in Payne County last year. The unreported number of abused children may be as high as 1 in 4 girls and 1 in 6 boys in our communities.

Experiencing abuse as a child can de-stabilize an entire lifetime, preventing a person from reaching their potential and possibly continuing the cycle of pain that abuse brings.

As the month closes, we’ll be taking down the visual prompts that remind us as a community we must act to protect our children. Next time you see a blue child cut-out or pass by the courthouse, please take a moment to make a plan for yourself to be instrumental in preventing child abuse. Start in your own household, with your own loved ones. Teach the children in your life about personal boundaries and encourage them to communicate with you not only about the daily activities in their lives, but about their feelings, fears, and hopes.

These activities strengthen your relationship with your loved ones and give them the confidence to share with you when something bothers them. While most of us would not hesitate to report child abuse, many of us have never had education on the signs of child abuse.

The Saville Center offers free training to interested agencies on this very topic. Please call 405-377-5670 for more information.

Consider donating your time or resources to programs that not only help children directly affected by abuse, but also to agencies that support the family as a whole.

A family that has protection from stress can better insulate itself from abuse. Start by simply reading up on the opportunities we have in Payne County. Resolve to spend 15 or 20 minutes at www.savillecenter.org or www.preventchildabuse.org.

The month of April ends on the 30th, but Child Abuse Prevention Month is meant to be the beginning of your engagement in activities that help protect the future of Payne County’s children. It should also serve as a reminder that the commitment to an abuse-free society must be renewed frequently.

Our vigilance is necessary to reduce the damage abuse and neglect causes our communities. Commit to find your unique way to contribute time, talent and resources to the prevention of child abuse.

Anna Stuck is the accreditation coordinator for the Payne County Health Department.

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