This post is sponsored by PreventChildAbuse.org
Chronic stress can be a contributing factor to child abuse and neglect. Since its inception, Prevent Child Abuse America (PCA America) has been working with partners nationwide to prevent child adversity. The organization’s vision is a world where all children grow up happy, healthy, and prepared to succeed in supportive families and communities. This year, PCA America is celebrating 50 years of progress, and this month, the organization is raising awareness through Child Abuse Prevention Month.
The world as a whole seems to be under an increasing amount of stress and it is hitting families that were already struggling the most. As we bring awareness to Child Abuse Prevention Month, we need to shed light on how stressors can have effects on a child’s development.
Children develop rapidly and the experiences they endure at one stage of childhood effects the next stage. So a family that is overloaded by social conditions or economic stressors might be less able to give the child consistent attention, which can lead to a child displaying behaviors that are disruptive and attention-seeking. It’s also important to think about the impact that stressors have on children’s psychological well-being. If the goal is to have a society of healthy and productive adults we must come up with solutions to manage the weight on families so that children have the support systems they need to flourish.
I talked a little about my childhood in my last post with PCA America and how my parent’s financial stress and emotional neglect had an impact on my mental health and development. My parents were overloaded with financial stressors that kept them from having the capacity to build a supportive, meaningful relationship with me, they were both hard workers who did their best with what they knew at the time, but I can’t help but wonder what kind of parents they may have been if the weight of staying out of poverty wasn’t one they had to hold alone.
Children are resilient but the effects of childhood adversity often become a cycle when there aren’t resources and assistance to help a family relieve the pressure. For example, the financial stressors that I had grown up with had become so ingrained in my thought process without me realizing it, that it ended up playing a powerful role in me falling into an emotional and financially abusive relationship. I didn’t understand I was being abused until after the fact, a lot of what I was experiencing felt familiar.
Breaking these cycles is imperative to growing together as a society so that our children can fulfill their potential and we can become an economically thriving nation. Family-friendly policies like paid family leave, affordable housing, healthcare, and properly funded schools may cost us now, but not taking action will end up costing us much more as more children grow up in a broken system with less safe spaces than ever before.
As a child, I was blessed to have friends whose parents always had an open-door policy and I remember school being a safe place. Today’s generation of kids are facing a different world. I get texts from kids who are scared during “safety drills,” their friends are fearful that they will be “outed” by the school to unsupportive parents that they are genuinely afraid of, and the number of households who have the emotional ability to have a safe space for other kids is shrinking especially following the pandemic. We need to create a better world for our kids, and we all have a role to play in creating that change.
Now is the time to take action and make the changes necessary. Let’s work together towards moving our society upstream and prevent child abuse and neglect before they happen so that every child has opportunities available that help them reach their full potential regardless of their race, gender, or socioeconomic background.
Don’t know where to start? How about planting a pinwheel! Support Prevent Children Abuse America and donate here to plant a pinwheel along with your message of support.