Child Abuse Prevention Month: What Do You Know About Child Abuse and Neglect?

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As we train our Project 1.27 families to become foster parents, we share with them the harsh realities of child abuse and neglect. It’s hard for many of us to imagine the horrific stories we hear on the news, in biographies, and as friends share their stories. There are others of us who have personally experienced the pain of abuse and/or neglect and strive to heal from the wounding.

You may or may not know the abuse or neglect story of the child for whom your foster/adoptive family is caring. You have, most likely, observed some of the effects of trauma that comes from abuse and neglect. Although children are incredibly resilient, it makes sense that they may continue to struggle with some of the following issues:

Child Abuse Awareness

-Medical or dental problems resulting from lack of access to care
-Difficulty learning or concentrating
-Hypervigilance, which means consistently assessing the situation and preparing for something bad to happen
-Excessive compliance, overly passive, or uncommunicative
-Fearful of being touched or approached by others
-Stealing money, objects, or food
-Abusing pets or animals as a means of having control over something
-Poor hygiene or uninterested in improving cleanliness. Sometimes poor hygiene is a way for someone to feel protected because they will less likely be approached by an offender
-Quickly attaching to strangers and displaying inappropriate physical touch

Here are some ideas of what you can do to serve the foster children that you are serving:

-Learn more about the experiences of those in foster care.

-Three Little Words: A Memoir by Ashley Rhodes-Courter
-The Boy Who Was Raised as a Dog: And Other Stories from a Child Psychiatrist's Notebook--What Traumatized Children by Bruce Perry and Maia Szalavitz
-Wounded Children, Healing Homes: How Traumatized Children Impact Adoptive and Foster Families by Jayne Schooner, Betsy Keefer Smalley, and Timothy J. Callahan, Ph.D.
-Attend Ashley Rhodes-Courter’s Presentation: Motivating Change in Three Little Words on April 29th

-Watch “Removed
-Provide children with fun and creative hygiene products that might excite them about bathing, brushing their teeth, caring for their hair, and wearing clean undergarments.
-Engage children in sensory play activities that can help not only with building connection but can also help the child regulate emotions of fear and frustration. Pinterest is also a great place to find ideas!

It’s possible that a child you know in your community is demonstrating some of these signs of physical abuse, sexual abuse and neglect. If you have reason to believe that a child is being maltreated, please help prevent child abuse and make a report of concern to the Colorado Child Abuse and Neglect Hotline at 1-844-CO-4-KIDS (1-844-264-5437). All calls made are confidential and reporters are kept anonymous. The report will be routed to the county where the child resides. If you witness an emergency or a child in a life-threatening situation, please immediately call 911.

By Megan Magel

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