April is Child Abuse Awareness month

“April is an opportunity for our community to think about how we protect our children,” said Debi Baskins, executive director of the Columbia Gorge Children’s Advocacy Center.

“Adults are responsible for a child’s safety, not the child. Children are often taught how to protect themselves — which is important — however, it’s no substitute for adult responsibility,” said Baskins.

“We teach our kids to wear their seat belts when they are riding in a car; to wear a helmet when riding a bike or skateboard; we hold their hand when crossing the street. Why would we leave the job of preventing child abuse solely to children?”

Here are some steps adults can take to protect children:

n Minimize opportunity. Schools and organizations should eliminate, or reduce, one-adult/one-child situations.

n Understand that abusers often become friendly with potential victims and their family. Nearly 90 percent of offenders are somebody the child and family know and trust.

n Think carefully about situations where older youth have access to younger children. Make sure multiple adults are present to supervise.

n Monitor your child’s time on the internet. Offenders use the internet to lure children.

n Talk about it. Children often keep abuse a secret. When your child comes home from an outing notice their mood and whether they can tell you with confidence how their time was spent.

n Teach children about their bodies and that certain areas are kept private. Tell them the areas covered by their swimming suits shouldn’t be touched by other people, and they shouldn’t touch others in those places, either.

n Talking to other adults about child abuse provides support and learning opportunities, as well as raises awareness in our community.

n If you suspect a child is being abused or has been abused, call child welfare or law enforcement; 9-1-1 if it’s an emergency.

For more information:

The Childhelp National Child Abuse Hotline, 800-4-A-CHILD (800-422-4453) is dedicated to the prevention of child abuse. It is available 24/7 and has assistance in 170 languages. All calls are anonymous and confidential.

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