Five Things You Can Do to Change the Life of a Child
It is encouraging for those of us involved in the world of child advocacy to watch as society becomes more aware of the issue of childhood neglect in this country, in our communities and in our own backyards. Various state child protection agencies report that neglect is fast becoming the most significant type of confirmed childhood mistreatment.
The data also disclose that this growing level of neglect is being fueled by two major factors:
1. The increasing financial stress on families, especially single parent households
2. The growing alcohol and substance abuse by parents or other caregivers
These factors, among others, increase the risk for a child to be subjected to physical, emotional, educational and medical neglect on the part of a parent or other caregiver.
Our country is addressing this growing problem through child protection services, law enforcement and a myriad of child advocacy groups and social service agencies. While these efforts are necessary as protective measures, the problem is so large and so systemic that it is going to take a concerted effort on the part of society as a whole to stem the tide of this growing problem.
Each of us can do something to help the children who may be in these very unfortunate situations. We can start in our neighborhoods, and take some very simple steps that can have a huge impact. Here are some suggestions posted on the website of the Child Welfare Information Gateway:
* Get to know your neighbors. Problems seem less overwhelming when support is nearby.
* Help a family under stress. Offer to babysit, help with chores and errands, or suggest resources in the community that can help.
* Reach out to children in your community. A smile or a word of encouragement can mean a lot, whether it comes from a parent or a passing stranger.
* Be an active community member. Lend a hand at local schools, community or faith-based organizations, children’s hospitals, social service agencies, or other places where families and children are supported.
* Keep your neighborhood safe. Start a Neighborhood Watch or plan a local “National Night Out” community event. You will get to know your neighbors while helping to keep your neighborhood and children safe.
Whether you decide to become involved in organized child advocacy efforts, or you chose to keep a watchful eye on the children in your neighborhood, we can each play a role in making the world a safer place for our children.