This post is sponsored by Prevent Child Abuse America.
Prevent Child Abuse America (PCA America) has been a leader in the movement to prevent child abuse and neglect for 50 years, and I am excited to partner with them to shed light on the broad impact child adversity has on all of us and how we can come together to help the next generation. Healthy children become healthy adults who contribute to a flourishing society, so we must always remember the children in our community are our future.
If I was asked just a few years ago if I had witnessed child abuse and neglect, I likely would have said no. Like many people, the image of child abuse that I had in my head was the extreme cases we see on the news or scenarios we watched in after-school specials as children ourselves. However, these situations only emphasize a small amount of childhood adversity in a sensationalistic way, and measuring child abuse and neglect by comparing situations to these stories can leave millions of families without the resources they need to raise healthy and productive children.
Prevent Child Abuse America’s 50th Anniversary
As a mom of 3 teenagers, I always strive to be a safe place for my children and every other child in my life. I want my children to know they have a soft place to fall, I want them to be themselves around me, and if they don’t feel comfortable talking with my about something I want to know that they have a handful of other trusted adults who can be a sounding board as they make hard decisions throughout life. I want my children to know that no matter what they choose to do or not do that I will always support them, and if something is wrong, I will fight for their safety.
Growing up I didn’t have that in my household, even though we had the material things we needed, and food was always in the cabinet, the freedom to be who we were without judgment was never there. Not to say my parents weren’t there for me, it was just a more black and white form of parenting that lacked emotional components.
Now as an adult, I am able to look back at my childhood and see my parents as simple human beings doing the best they could with what they had. My mother worked 2 jobs most of my life and my father would work all day and then fix things around the house. I don’t think they had the emotional capacity left to pour into a child who admittedly needed a lot of it. After all, how can we judge a person for not pouring into someone when their cup was already depleted.
I think we can all agree that parenting is challenging even when life is set up for success, but when you add adversities such as financial challenges, health issues, or lack of affordable childcare, parenting can easily become overwhelming. Add to that the struggles of parenting in the midst of a global pandemic and civil unrest and it can easily become so overwhelming that our most vulnerable members of the community, the children, end up carrying the scars of it into adulthood.
April is Child Abuse Prevention Month
If we are to truly ensure that every child has a chance to grow in a healthy manner, we must begin to see these issues as societal issues. The economic and social costs of child abuse and neglect affect us all and equate to $124 billion dollars according to the CDC. The greatest thing about this story is that there are so many ways in which we can help. We need to call on policymakers to support policies that help prevent child adversity, from child tax credits to paid leave, reducing the financial pressure on families can help cultivate stronger family relationships. As individuals in our society, we need to bring back the “it takes a village” feeling of community. Small actions can make big impacts on a family who is in crisis mode, perhaps offer to babysit for a struggling mother one afternoon or bring over a hot meal, sometimes knowing people care can move mountains.
Everyone has a role to play in helping our children reach their full potential so that we can build a healthy, equitable, and thriving nation. It is time to realize we all have a stake in what becomes of the children in our society, and we must come together to help transform the outcomes for struggling families in our community.
Join me in celebrating PCA America’s 50th Anniversary, and kick of April as Child Abuse Prevention Month by wearing Blue on April 1st. You can learn more ways to help PCA America prevent childhood adversity here.