Amarah's Corner: April is Child Abuse Awareness Month, Part 2


Jesus said in Matthew 25:40 (KJV), “Whatever you’ve done unto the least of these (kids), you’ve done it unto me.”

Risk factors

Factors that may increase a person’s risk of becoming abusive include:

* A history of being abused or neglected as a child

* Physical or mental illness, such as depression or post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)

* Family crisis or stress, including domestic violence, other marital conflicts or single parenting

* A child in the family who is developmentally or physically disabled

* Financial stress, unemployment or poverty

* Social or extended family isolation

* Poor understanding of child development and parenting skills

* Alcohol, drugs or other substance abuse

Complications

Some children overcome physical and psychological effects of child abuse, particularly those with strong social support. For many others; however, child abuse may result in physical, behavioral, emotional or mental health issues — even years later, such as:

Physical issues

* Premature death

* Physical disabilities

* Learning disabilities

* Substance abuse

* Health problems such as heart disease, immune disorders, chronic lung disease and cancer

Behavioral issues

Delinquent or violent behavior

* Abuse of others

* Withdrawal

* Suicide attempts or self-injury

* High-risk sexual behaviors or teen pregnancy

* Problems in school or not finishing high school

* Limited social and relationship skills

* Problems with work or staying employed

Emotional issues

* Low self-esteem

* Difficulty establishing or maintaining relationships

* Challenges with intimacy and trust

* An unhealthy view of parenthood

* Inability to cope with stress and frustrations

* Acceptance that violence is a normal part of relationships

Mental health disorders

* Eating disorders

* Personality disorders

* Behavior disorders

* Depression

* Anxiety disorders

* Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)

* Sleep disturbances

* Attachment disorders

Prevention

You can take important steps to protect your child from exploitation and child abuse, as well as prevent child abuse in your neighborhood or community. The goal is to provide safe, stable, nurturing relationships for children, such as:

* Offer your child love and attention. Nurture your child, listen and be involved in his or her life to develop trust and good communication. Encourage your child to tell you if there’s a problem. A supportive family environment and social networks can foster your child’s self-esteem and sense of self-worth.

* Don’t respond in anger. If you feel overwhelmed or out of control, take a break. Don’t take out your anger on your child. Talk with your doctor or therapist about ways you can learn to cope with stress and better interact with your child.

* Think supervision. Don’t leave a young child home alone. In public, keep a close eye on your child. Volunteer at school and for activities to get to know the adults who spend time with your child. When old enough to go out without supervision, encourage your child to stay away from strangers and to be with friends rather than be alone — and to tell you where he or she is at all times. Find out who’s supervising your child, for example, at a sleepover.

* Know your child’s caregivers. Check references for babysitters and other caregivers. Make irregular, but frequent, unannounced visits to observe what’s happening. Don’t allow substitutes for your usual child care provider if you don’t know the substitute.

* Emphasize when to say, “No!” Make sure your child understands that he or she doesn’t have to do anything that seems scary or uncomfortable. Encourage your child to leave a threatening or frightening situation immediately and seek help from a trusted adult. If something happens, encourage your child to talk to you or another trusted adult about the episode. Assure your child it’s okay to talk and that he or she won’t get in trouble.

* Teach your child how to stay safe online. Put the computer in a common area of your home, not the child’s bedroom. Use parental controls to restrict the types of websites your child can visit and check privacy settings on social networking sites. Consider it a red flag if your child is secretive about online activities. Cover ground rules, such as not sharing personal information; not responding to inappropriate, hurtful or frightening messages; and not arranging to meet an online contact in person without your permission. Tell your child to let you know if an unknown person makes contact through a social networking site. Report online harassment or inappropriate senders to your service provider and local authorities, if necessary.

* Reach out. Meet the families in your neighborhood, including parents and children. Consider joining a parent support group. Develop a network of supportive family and friends.

If you worry that you might abuse your child, seek help immediately. Your family doctor can offer a referral to a parenting class, counseling, or parent support group to help you learn appropriate ways to deal with anger. If you’re abusing alcohol or drugs, ask your doctor about treatment options.

If you were abused as a child, get counseling to ensure you don’t continue the abuse cycle or teach those destructive behaviors to your child.

Remember, child abuse is preventable — and often a symptom of a problem that may be treatable. Ask for help today.

Retrieved from https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/child-abuse/symptoms-causes/syc-20370864

Remember, Jesus loves you and Jesus is Lord!

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