Thoughtful Parenting: April marks Child Abuse Prevention Month | SteamboatToday.com

Thoughtful Parenting: April marks Child Abuse Prevention Month

Michael Sidinger/For Steamboat Today

Child maltreatment is manifested in different ways. The National Child Abuse and Neglect Data System defines child physical abuse as "non-accidental trauma or physical injury caused by punching, beating, kicking, biting, burning or otherwise harming a child."

If you go

What: Foster parent recruitment event

When: 6:30 to 8 p.m. Wednesday, April 13

Where: BCC hearing room, third floor, Historic Routt County Courthouse, 522 Lincoln Ave.

Information: Child care and dinner are provided free. RSVP with the number attending by Tuesday, April 12 by telephone at 970-870-5251 or email at tstoehr@co.routt….

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What: Month of the Young Child Children's Parade

When: 10 to 11 a.m. April 26

Where: Lincoln Avenue between Fifth and Seventh streets.

NCANDS also defines child neglect as "a type of maltreatment that refers to the failure by the caregiver to provide needed, age-appropriate care although financially able to do so or offered financial/other means to do so."

These definitions are simplistic, and this article could get lost by further defining emotional, sexual and educational neglect, lack of supervision and drug-exposed children (at birth and in manufacturing settings).

County Child Protective Services is required to consider accepted cultural/religious child rearing practices and "acts construed to be the reasonable exercise of parental discipline" when assessing a referral by any community member. However, those considerations do not supersede the law or justify a person engaging in child abuse or neglect.

Colorado law identifies "mandatory reporters" of child abuse and neglect. It also states that any person who knows or suspects that a child is or has been at risk of being abused or neglected should report such concerns to the County Department of Human Services (970-367-4056 in Routt County), a local law enforcement agency or the Colorado Child Abuse Hotline (1-844-264-5437).

The appropriate agency will proceed as deemed necessary. Often, much attention is devoted during the month of April to reporting child abuse and neglect, yet it is very important that all community members engage in activities that strengthen families and safeguard our children, including reporting.

If we primarily speak of reporting an already perpetrated case of abuse, then we have missed an important part of the month's designation: Child Abuse Prevention Month.

One behavior we can all engage in is being aware of the people around us — relatives, friends, parents, neighbors, child care providers, teachers — anyone who is around or has caretaker responsibilities for children.

We are all human and are affected by our surroundings and circumstances. The belief is that most people who parent want to be good parents, and supportive relatives want to behave in supportive ways on behalf of children in their lives.

The reality is that humanness sometimes gets in the way; loss of a job, substance abuse, historical abuse as a child, lack of parenting skills or knowledge of child development and mental health all can contribute to abuse or neglect.

Any child caretaker, such as a parent or stepparent, needs to have and exercise self-awareness of his or her humanness and ask for help before the loss of control or anger at a child erupts into an abusive action. Community members who know of a situation they think is deteriorating into a child abuse situation are strongly urged to intervene or report.

Some ideas on how to interrupt an escalating situation include the following.

• Engage in conversation; support rather than judge

• Be empathic. Use statements such as, "My child has done that before" or, "It's tough being a parent."

• Reframe the child's behavior. Say things like, "She's got a lot of energy" to divert the adult's anger.

Actively participate in prevention.

Michael Sidinger is assistant director of the Routt County Department of Human Services and a member of the Routt County Early Childhood Council, First Impressions.

If you go

What: Foster parent recruitment event

When: 6:30 to 8 p.m. Wednesday, April 13

Where: BCC hearing room, third floor, Historic Routt County Courthouse, 522 Lincoln Ave.

Information: Child care and dinner are provided free. RSVP with the number attending by Tuesday, April 12 by telephone at 970-870-5251 or email at tstoehr@co.routt….

What: Month of the Young Child Children’s Parade

When: 10 to 11 a.m. April 26

Where: Lincoln Avenue between Fifth and Seventh streets.