Did you know that nearly five children die every day as a result of child abuse? With that in mind, April is recognized every year across the country and right here in Volusia County as Child Abuse Prevention Month. That makes it the perfect time to remind parents, grandparents, guardians, caregivers, babysitters, educators, and all citizens that preventing child abuse is everyone’s responsibility. The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services estimates that approximately 679,000 children were victims of abuse or neglect in 2013—with more than 1,500 of the cases resulting in the death of a child. That same year, the Volusia County Sheriff’s Office received 124 calls of suspected child abuse. These statistics are both startling and heart-breaking. Part of the goal of Child Abuse Prevention Month is to educate our children about personal safety dangers and to emphasize to them the need to tell a trusted adult if someone touches them in an inappropriate way.
Since children are naturally trusting, it’s important to reinforce the following to them: • Make sure children know their full name, address, and telephone number.
• Instruct children on how to dial 911.
• Remind children never to accept rides or gifts from strangers or talk to strangers, no matter what excuse they may use.
• Never put a child’s name on the outside of any clothing or backpacks in order to avoid the possibility of a stranger establishing familiarity with the child by calling the child’s name.
• Encourage children to stay with friends and not to play alone.
• Make sure children are taking the safest routes to and from school, stores, friends’ homes, and others places they may visit.
• Teach children the difference between appropriate and inappropriate touching.
• Instruct children not to tell anyone on the phone or at the door they’re home alone.
• Teach children how to work the locks on the doors and windows. For adult caregivers, please be sure to take the time to listen carefully to a child’s fears and feelings about people and places that scare them. Remember to practice these safety tips with the children in your lives so they become conditioned to using good crime prevention skills. Working together, we can all help prevent child abuse and ensure that children live and grow in a community that promotes their well-being and safeguards their future. After all, we all share a common passion and goal of raising strong families!