April is National Child Abuse Prevention Month in the United States, but other than donning a blue awareness ribbon, many of us may wonder how we can help prevent child abuse. If it’s not happening in our own home, how are we supposed to make a change?

 While many loving parents can’t begin to perceive how so many children are abused or neglected in so many ways each year, the fact remains that it does happen. One tiny baby step towards addressing the issue begins with awareness.

 In an interview with Wendy Norwood concerning the Marlee Sutton Foundation last month, she said something to the effect of “everyone experiences trauma differently. What may be traumatic for one child may not affect another child the same way.”

Children throughout the nation, and yes, here in Lawrence County, are exposed to traumatic situations all the time. Say a parent is a drug abuser or a victim of abuse themselves, though the child may be affected indirectly, it is still a form of trauma. Thus the cycle begins.

 One way you can help is by simply learning to recognize the signs, then by learning how best to approach a given situation. Does a child from your church or school need professional help?

 Another simple way to help might even include offering a smile and a warm welcome. The old saying, “children should be seen not heard,” only contributes to an abusive environment. Listen and pay attention. If you suspect a child is in danger, contact someone qualified to help.

One more way you might be able to help, not just this month but all year long, contact child services or DHR. Ask how you can make a difference in the community either by donating or volunteering. There are lots of great programs aimed towards the health and wellbeing of the younger generations. The key is to seek them out and ask a simple question. How can I help?

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