05 Apr, 2011, 02:40 ET
Different Approaches Encourage All Americans to Get Involved Before Abuse Starts and to Support Families, Be Good Neighbors All Year Round
WASHINGTON, April 5, 2011 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- More than three million reports of child abuse and neglect are filed each year in the United States; more than three-quarters of a million of those cases are verified, and despite valiant efforts to counter these grim statistics, children continue to suffer. In the face of rising pressures on families, shrinking state and federal budgets, and a protective system largely designed to intervene only after heart-breaking situations come to light, Americans everywhere are asking themselves: Is there anything that we can do to protect America's children before things reach a crisis point?
Yes, says American Humane Association, the oldest organization in the country protecting children and animals. During this April's Child Abuse Prevention Month, the 134-year-old nonprofit is spotlighting large and small ways that all Americans can get involved now – and year-round – to help protect children, strengthen families, and, ultimately, prevent abuse and neglect.
To start, American Humane Association is putting out a list of simple tips that can have a positive effect on the well-being and healthy development of children, families and communities. Print out the tip sheet from the www.americanhumane.org website to hang on your fridge, post in your office or carry with you. The nonprofit is also putting out a tip a day on its Facebook page – join today!
In the meantime, here are just 10 tips to get you started:
For your family:
- As a parent, block out 15 minutes a day to play one-on-one with your child — doing anything he or she wants. We know from studies that the more parents engage in positive activities with their children, the less they use negative physical and psychological discipline.
- Tell the children or youth in your life how much you care for them and appreciate them. All children deserve to have someone who is "crazy about them" and loves them unconditionally.
- Connect with grandparents. Grandparents are a terrific source of experience, wisdom and problem-solving. Encourage them to get involved with their grandchildren, help keep an eye on them, and provide a wise, sympathetic ear.
For friends and neighbors:
- Compliment a father — someone you know or even someone in public — on something positive you see him do with his children. Dads contribute uniquely to children's development.
- Offer your time to baby-sit for the child of a friend, neighbor or family member. All parents need a break and help sometimes — even if it is just to rest or "recharge" for an hour or two.
- Support parents looking for a job by offering your professional knowledge and experience in resume writing or preparing for a job interview. Financial stability links directly with family stability and can have a big effect on the emotional well-being of caregivers and their children.
For your community:
- Do volunteer work for a youth- or family-serving organization in your community. Some families just need a little help from time to time, and community organizations are designed to do just that.
- Take action on legislative issues that affect children and families. Call your elected representatives, join demonstrations and be sure always to vote to show that you support services to help families raise healthy children.
- Introduce yourself to your neighbors. Caring and connected neighborhoods can be powerful in reducing neighborhood violence and supporting struggling parents.
- If you have reason to believe a child may be at risk of harm in their home, call your local child abuse hotline. Anyone who is worried about the well-being of a child can call to report their concerns.
Innovative, Community-based Prevention and Intervention Programs
American Humane Association is also pioneering programs across the country to train ordinary people how to respond in extraordinary situations that may lead to child abuse or neglect. The Front Porch Project® is a national, research-supported, community-based initiative built upon the belief that all people who are concerned about the safety and well-being of children in their communities need to be encouraged and taught to make a difference. This concept is much the same as a good neighbor sitting on the "front porch," who in years past would have been aware of and involved in solving problems affecting families they knew. American front porches were more than convenient sitting places; they served as networking centers where concerned friends could share information and devise support systems to help each other through difficult times. The project helps local organizations train ordinary people how to safely and effectively help families and intervene before child abuse occurs. People interested in bringing The Front Porch Project to their neighborhood can find out more at www.americanhumane.org/frontporch .
American Humane Association also works on fatherhood initiatives, helps agencies to respond to families who need help in a timely and friendly way, all before problems escalate, conducts research on child abuse and neglect, and legislates for the kind of support to American families that relieve pressures that can lead to problems.
"Child welfare professionals are working at full capacity to protect our nation's children," said American Humane Association President and Chief Executive Officer Robin R. Ganzert, Ph.D. "However, it's clear that the problem is too great to be delegated entirely to these valiant workers. We must engage and equip every American to respond with simple, practical ways of helping that reflect our shared values of hope, strength, caring and compassion. If we all work together, we may make a real difference in the lives of America's children and help avoid the irreversible effects of child maltreatment."
About American Humane Association
Since 1877 the historic American Humane Association has been at the forefront of virtually every major advance in protecting children, pets and farm animals from cruelty, abuse and neglect. Today we're also leading the way in understanding human-animal interaction and its role in society. As the nation's voice for the protection of children and animals, American Humane Association reaches millions of people every day through groundbreaking research, education, training and services that span a wide network of organizations, agencies and businesses. You can help make a difference, too. Visit American Humane Association at www.americanhumane.org today.
SOURCE American Humane Association
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