It Takes a Village
One of the most difficult jobs is being a parent. Regardless of one’s socioeconomic or educational level, parenting can be rewarding and yet very stressful. As threats of financial and health insecurity continue to rise from the prolonged pandemic, and fear of overwhelming instability throughout the world fills the news, families have significant levels of stress which increases the risk for abuse and neglect to surface.
Throughout the world, childhood abuse and neglect are serious public health concerns that threaten the vitality to present and future generations. In Cuyahoga County, 7.4 out of every 1,000 children are abused and or neglected (The Annie E. Casey Foundation, 2018). Abuse can be classified as physical, sexual, emotional, and neglect. Early childhood abuse and neglect can have serious consequences on an individual’s physical and mental well-being, ability to learn, and ability to break away from intergenerational cycles of trauma.
Signs of Abuse can Include:
- Unexplained Injuries
- Nightmares, bedwetting
- Fear of going home
- Changes in eating
- Difficulty sleeping/nightmares
- Changes in school performance
- Lack of personal care/hygiene
- Scared, anxious, withdrawn
For more signs, check out Child Information Gateway
Whether you are a parent, an auntie or an uncle, a grandparent, a neighbor, or a professional in the community, preventing childhood abuse and neglect and reporting concerning signs is all our responsibility. Individuals and families exist within the greater context of the communities and systems they live in. Research has shown that promoting protective factors for families, communities, and systems can have a positive effect on a child’s wellbeing and has been shown to buffer the effects of toxic stress, prevent abuse and neglect, and promote family resiliency.
Together we can build healthier communities by providing support for children and families and advocating for just and equitable policies which shape the systems that our families live in. Types of support include social, emotional, financial (basic needs), parenting classes, and legal services. Equitable policies which provide a preventative buffer for children and families include access to high-quality, affordable healthcare (including mental health treatment), high-quality education, economic stability (jobs that provide a living wage), and family-friendly work environments. Parenting is hard work, and no one should have to walk the road alone. Together, we can strengthen communities in the present and future generations by focusing on prevention for children and families today.
Programs to Strengthen Families
At Adoption Network Cleveland, we are driven to provide a source of healing for individuals, families, and communities and enhance protective factors for our community through a broad array of programming and advocacy. Check out our website to learn more about the resources available: https://www.adoptionnetwork.org/service-areas/family-youth
What to Do if You Suspect Abuse?
If you have concerns regarding potential abuse or neglect, don’t hesitate to call 855-O-H-CHILD (855-642-4453). Not all calls are investigated if the information given does not meet the criteria for further evaluation, but you could help a child get the help that they need if they are in an unsafe situation.
For more information about what to include in the report and what to expect, please visit the Ohio Department of Job and Family Services website: https://jfs.ohio.gov/ocf/reportchildabuseandneglect.stm