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4-10. Prevention of Child Abuse

Child abuse is a complex problem, and American society must deal with preventing the problem. Reacting to the problem of child abuse after it occurs is costly in terms of human suffering and dollars. Today, there are many individual instances of effort to prevent child abuse and many child abuse prevention programs. A common factor in many of these programs has been to identify situations or circumstances in which abuse is likely to occur.

a. Programs/Groups for Prevention. New groups and programs are being formed. Listed below are some child abuse prevention groups and programs now in existence.

(1) Parent-aides. Parent-aides are individuals trained to work with troubled parents. The aides listen to parents who are troubled by the stresses of life (caring for children being one of those stresses). These aides help the parents learn to deal with the stress of caring for and nurturing a child. The troubled parents are also taught that there are other ways of solving their own problems, means other than abusing their children.

(2) Parents Anonymous (PA). Parents Anonymous is a national group with more than 600 chapters. This self-help group provides these services: support network for abusive parents, an organization for socialization for such parents, and a wide range of information about parenting. The nature of PA groups is different from chapter to chapter, depending on the individuals who make up the group. On the whole, a Parents Anonymous chapter helps abusive parents understand their problem by seeing the same problem and behaviors in others. This group approach can help an abusive parent change his own attitude and treatment of his child.

(3) Public education and awareness programs. Local school systems, social agencies, church groups, etc. can and have initiated programs for the general public that seek to give knowledge about child rearing. These programs give resources for parents to use when they start to abuse their children. Many high schools and colleges offer classes on how to be a parent. Such programs are relatively inexpensive and very beneficial in preventing child abuse.

(4) Observation of parent-infant interactions. Studies have shown that observing mothers and infants can indicate whether the infant will be physically abused or neglected. Primary care physicians and other health care personnel can observe the way mothers treat their infants, develop skill in making these observations, and subsequently find help for those parents who seem to lean toward child abuse.

(5) "Immunization" of children against abuse. There have been programs in recent years which try to teach children how to react to one form of abuse--sexual abuse. Such programs have been presented to very young children in school settings. The goals are to define sexual abuse for the child and teach the child what to do if someone tries to abuse him.

b. Common Sense Rules for Children. Teach children how to protect themselves against sexual abuse. Children who are old enough to understand can be taught these common sense rules.

(1) Be alert. Tell children to be aware of the behavior of other people and to be careful. Children should remember:

(a) Don't believe strangers who tell the child they were sent by the child's father or mother to pick the child up.

(b) Avoid being alone with any person who wants to touch the child in a sexual way.

(c) Don't be too trusting. Avoid contacts with strangers or other adults who seem suspiciously friendly: don't accept gifts, don't let anyone touch him, don't let a strange adult join in play.

(2) Avoid dangerous situations. Tell children how to avoid letting others take advantage of them.

(a) Don't play alone in deserted areas or use public restrooms along.

(b) Don't open the door at all when you are home alone.

(c) Don't talk to people you don't know on the telephone.

(3) Discuss problem encounters with parents. Request that your children tell you if anything like the following occurs:

(a) Any unusual or suspicious sexual behavior the child has seen or experienced.

(b) If a friend leaves with someone whose behavior seems suspicious.

(c) If the child feels uncomfortable about being alone with someone.

(4) What to do if the child is approached or abused. A child should be taught not to obey an abuser, unless the abuser threatens the child physically. Instead, the child should:

(a) Try to run away if someone tries to abuse the child sexually.

(b) Say NO if anyone tries to abuse the child sexually.

(c) Tell the abuser that he (the child) will tell someone.

(d) Find help from someone.

(e) Tell an adult what has happened as soon as possible.

(f) Remember when and where the incident happened.

(g) Understand that he (the child) is NOT guilty if abused; the incident was NOT the child's fault.

4-11. Summary

David L. Heiserman, Editor

Copyright   SweetHaven Publishing Services
All Rights Reserved

Revised: June 06, 2015