By Felipe GarzaVice President of Domestic Operations
Buckner Children and Family Services
You may be like a lot of people I know: You may not think you can do anything about the epidemic of child abuse in our state – in our country – but that is a false assumption. Everyone can help prevent children from suffering from physical, psychological and sexual abuse. What can you do? Here are a few ways to prevent child abuse:
- Prevention begins in the home. Be a good example, respect your family members, and when children misbehave, let them know that you dislike what they did, not who they are. Don't hit your kids; violence teaches violence. Say "I love you" more often. Reward good behavior.
- Outside your home, praise and encourage the children you know. Mean words can make a child feel worthless, ugly, and unloved, and the hurt can last a lifetime. Be positive.
- Volunteer. Volunteer your time in a child crisis shelter, parenting support program, drug abuse prevention or treatment program, shelter for the homeless, or any of the many ministries of Buckner that provide help and hope for children and families.
- Become a foster parent. It's not an easy job, but the rewards are great when you help a child learn what it feels like to be safe.
- Learn to recognize the signs of abuse. Know the signs of neglect, physical abuse, sexual abuse, and emotional abuse. A good place to start is by referencing the website www.itsuptoyou.org, produced by the Texas Department of Family and Protective Services.
- Report suspected child abuse and neglect. Call 1-800-252-5400 (in Texas) or your local law enforcement agency if you think a child is being neglected, sexually abused, or physically or emotionally abused. Children are hardly ever abused only once. If you suspect it, you must report it. That's the law. Reporting suspected child abuse makes it possible for a family to get help.
Finally, if you are a member of a faith community, please pray for and encourage prayer for children who are abused. In Texas, that’s about 50,000 each year and around 4,000 in the Dallas/Fort Worth area alone. These are children who need an advocate locally and a prayer partner. By doing all or any of these, you are helping the child abuse problem.