Straight Talk About Child Abuse


April is National Child Abuse Prevention Month. Because of the sensitivity and personal nature of this subject, it is often avoided – and many guilt-ridden parents (including caregivers) find themselves stuck in bad situations with their children and unable to make the necessary positive changes they need to make because they are in denial – they don’t want to talk about it.

The Federal Child Abuse Prevention Treatment Act (CAPTA) defines child abuse and neglect at a minimum as: “Any recent act or failure to act on the part of a parent or caretaker which results in death, serious physical or emotional harm, sexual abuse or exploitation or an act or failure to act which presents imminent risk of serious harm.” There are many complex and serious reasons why this happens. Only some can be discussed here.

Why does child abuse happen?

Stress is often a key factor in abuse situations. Families these days are busier than ever with both parents working and sometimes even working overtime. Less and less time is spent with the children and needs go unmet and parents exhibit more and more impatient and angry behavior. Often tiredness, frustration, marital upsets are taken out on the children who are powerless to avoid these negative scenarios. Divorce, job loss, death in the family, major illness, financial troubles all contribute to different forms of abuse. The need some parents think they have to become “super parents” can also create abusive situations where what the parents expect from their child is unreasonable and beyond the child’s capabilities.

How can abuse be prevented?

Parents need to slow down their lifestyles so that the children are included and not pushed away. Parents need to learn to connect with their children in a meaningful, loving and practical way. They need to realize their own needs and their children’s needs and be practical and level-headed in meeting them. Mom and Dad need relaxation time by themselves and also with their children. Positive bonding between parents and kids needs to be happening regularly for the benefit and health of all.
How can you go for help?

Most, if not all, neighborhoods have churches that offer counseling and other helps. Close friends who understand and who can give solid, positive help and advice are also a good resource. The CAPTA website is a valuable help (capta.org).


Hopefully, in the near future, child abuse won’t need an entire month to make itself known to our society as we, through education, awareness and personal care actively seek ways to prevent it from happening at all.

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