Mother Nature is focused…on the cold I see. Flurries in the NYC in early December, gotta love it. Well...not really :-)
Today is December 6th, when everyone is supposed to take down their cartoon profile pics after a week or so of changing them to bring awareness to child abuse. The Facebook campaign went viral and is reported to have been “successful.” While it was fun to see Betty Boop, Bugs Bunny, Woody Woodpecker, The Flintstones, Garfield, Fat Albert and countless other cartoon characters from my childhood, I wondered just how “successful” this campaign was. Was it successful because people participated? Because people were lifting their voices up against child abuse? What did changing a profile pic really do except take us on a trip down memory lane?
Before anyone comes at me with the “well it was a good cause” response, trust me when I tell you I had nothing against this Facebook campaign. If anything, I think remembering what it was like to be a child is the first step in raising awareness of child abuse. But changing a profile photo isn’t enough.
Child abuse is real. It happens every day around the world. The best way to stop child abuse is to prevent it from happening in the first place. If you are a parent, think before you belittle or hit your child. Most times, the abuse comes at the hands of a parent or a caregiver, so be the best, loving parent you can be. I’m not saying don’t discipline your child, but words have power, and no child should associate your touch with pain.
It’s the responsibility of all adults to protect our children – and not just the children in your family. If you suspect or notice signs of child abuse in ANY child, it’s your moral responsibility to speak up and try to stop it. It’s not just up to child protective services to intervene. Usually by the time they step in, the damage is already done. Permanent damage - to the child’s heart, mind, body…and spirit. The best way to stop child abuse is to be aware of what is going on around you with the children in your life. Friends, family, teachers, neighbors, coaches or anyone else who has children in their lives who recognizes child abuse should step up and play a role in stopping the abuse.
How do you recognize child abuse?
Usually it’s as easy as simply paying attention to them. Listen to what they say. Watch for signs…the most common of which is emotional abuse. If you see a parent emotionally abusing their child, say something! I hate seeing a parent cursing at their child on the train, or calling them disparaging names in the store. If they do this to them in public, imagine what they say to them behind closed doors. I’ve gotten the death stare from parents when I tell them that they shouldn’t curse at or belittle their child, but they usually stop…even if it’s just until the child gets home. But they need to be called on it. And children need to know that THAT isn't love.
Emotional abuse may be harder to detect, and since children love their parent or caregiver (most times), they may be afraid to speak out against them or talk about the problem. That’s when you have to look past what the child is saying to see the real problem.
Signs of physical abuse may include unexplained bruises or cuts, repeated “accidents” such as falling down the stairs that leave marks, and frequent absences from school for no apparent reason. If you suspect or see any of this, call someone and get help for the family immediately. Children shouldn’t have to stay in an abusive situation. The best way to help is to get involved.
Children who are abused are afraid. They’re afraid of their abuser, and afraid to tell on them because of retaliation, thinking it’ll only get worse if they tell. So they may not ask for help. They may not trust anyone. They may have tried to ask for help from another trusted family member or friend and no one did anything. But this shouldn’t stop any of us from trying to help. Even if they reject your help, do something anyway.
Abused children come in all shapes and sizes, from all races, and all economic backgrounds. It doesn’t just affect children from low-income families, or minority children, boys or girls. Sometimes abuse is masked well, because to the outside world, everything looks fine, the children come from families with money, or a from a good “Christian” family - especially in cases of sexual abuse. Don’t assume anything. Everything is NOT always fine simply because the family looks like they have it together on the outside. Pay attention to our kids. All kids. Sure, Bugs Bunny is cute and all, but do more than change your Facebook profile photo. Help change a child’s life. Be one of the adults who takes a stand and becomes part of the village we need to help raise our children to be happy and safe.
Over the years, I've been blessed to have spent time with, befriend, love, learn from and share experiences with people who have helped me grow and inspire me everyday. They have shared words of wisdom, strengthened me with encouragement, gave me joy with a smile, comforted me with a hug, gave clarity to my visions and dreams and renewed my spirit with faith. It is through family and friends that I manage to be happy and hopeful.
These relationships work because we share our philosophies, our personal truths and an outlook that prompts us to seek something greater in all and in ourselves. Sharing a journey heartedly illuminates our lives and enriches our experiences. It keeps us moving....always evolving....ever changing.
I have been transformed by the wisdom, opinions, insights and revelations of those who have shared their journey with me. It's a blessing I long to share with you through my first ever blog. For me, writing is a reflection of my own direct experience and I look forward to all of you sharing your thoughts and experiences with me.
So...with that said....can I just say.....??? :-)