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Preventing Child Abuse through Community Support

April is Child Abuse Prevention Month, an important designation in Alaska because we have some of the highest rates of child abuse and neglect in the nation.  And unfortunately, that rate is presumedly going to rise as stress and tensions at home related to coronavirus-related school closures and quarantines, economic uncertainty and job loss are all possible uncertainties for families.

However, even in this crisis environment, we can prevent child abuse. It is going to take all of us to ensure that the children of our state can have the opportunity to be safe and healthy.

If You Suspect Child Abuse, Make the Call

To report Child Abuse call 1.800.478.4444; or email ReportChildAbuse@alaska.gov. For more information or training, visit www.ReportChildAbuse.alaska.gov.

Other Resources to Prevent Child Abuse

The Alaska Children’s Trust has teamed with Help Me Grow Alaska to compile a list of online resources for children and families in response to COVID-19, and launched #resilient-19, a social media effort to encourage people to share over the coming days a variety of ways children, families and communities can build the resilience to overcome these challenging times. You can participate by going to Facebook and sharing the various posts on #Resilient19; create your own post and tag it #Resilient19; or share information about a resource, knowledge, skill or support and tag it #Resilient19.

Additionally, the Alaska Children’s Trust general website is a helpful go-to resource for ways to make a difference in your family, in your neighborhood and in your village/community. Their suggestions include:

For your family

  • As a parent, block out 15 minutes a day to play one-on-one with your child and do anything they want.
  • Tell the children or youth in your life how much you care for them and appreciate them. All children deserve to have someone who is “crazy” about them and loves them unconditionally.
  • Work with the kids in your life to explore their heritage and learn their family’s story.
  • Connect with grandparents to preserve cultural heritage. Grandparents are an incredible source of cultural heritage — from traditions to language to food! Encourage them to tell stories to their grandchildren and even visit their schools (when they reopen) to share where they come from.

For your friends and neighbors (After COVID-19 restrictions have been lifted)

  • Compliment a father — someone you know or even someone in public — on something positive you see him do with his children. Dads contribute uniquely to children’s development.
  • Offer your time to babysit for the child of a friend, neighbor or family member.
  • Mentor a young dad you know on how to grow his relationship with his kids.
  • Support parents looking for a job by offering your professional knowledge and experience in resume writing or preparing for a job interview. Financial stability links directly with family stability and can have a big effect on the emotional well-being of caregivers and their children.
  • Encourage single mothers you know, whenever possible, to support the involvement of children’s fathers in their lives. When noncustodial dads work to be involved in the lives of their children, they need the positive support of the child’s other parent or caretaker to encourage the development of that relationship.
  • Arrange a potluck event in your neighborhood to get to know other parents and their kids.

For your community (After COVID-19 restrictions have been lifted)

  • Sponsor, volunteer, or participate at local community events and nonprofits.
  • Take action on legislative issues that affect children and families. Call your elected representatives.
  • Introduce yourself to your neighbors.
  • Create a “Safe Children Zone” in your neighborhood. Host a community meeting with your neighbors to talk about what each of you can do to help create a sense of safety for the children in your neighborhood.
  • Volunteer or donate resources to a local preschool or daycare center.
  • Ask your church or another faith-based organization in your community about donations that can be made to support families in need.
  • Become a foster parent.

Remember, it’s up to all of us to prevent child abuse. Do your part to ensure all Alaska children grow up healthy and resilient.

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The SEARHC Crisis Help Line, 1.877.294.0074, is available 24 hours a day, seven days a week to residents of Southeast Alaska.