How can one person make a difference?

Monday, September 28, 2009

Child maltreatment is a widespread problem. Nearly five children in the United States die every day as a result of abuse or neglect. More than 75% are under the age of four.

Both the statistics and the stories are horrifying. When we’re confronted with such a massive problem, it’s natural to feel hopeless. It’s natural to say, “How can one person possibly make a difference?”

The truth is this is the only way we can make a difference—one person at a time. And then one more. And then another. And another.

Confucius said, To put the world right in order, we must first put the nation in order; to put the nation in order, we must first put the family in order; to put the family in order, we must first cultivate our personal life; we must first set our hearts right.”

Some people think that preventing child abuse means calling the police or Child Protective Services when you see something happening. While it’s the right thing to do at that point, reporting isn’t the same thing as prevention-- anymore than chemotherapy is cancer prevention.

So, you may ask, how can child maltreatment be prevented? Here are a few ideas:

  1. Support programs in your community that are effective in helping families. If you don’t know about such programs, check with your local Department of Child Services office or United Way.

  2. Child maltreatment happens in all kinds of families, all income levels, in every neighborhood. Reach out to families you know. Offer to take the kids for a few hours to give harried parents a much-needed break.

  3. Remember that families become strong when they are supported by a strong community.

  4. Find out if there is a Child Abuse Prevention Council in your county by checking our web site: If there is a Council, contact them to see how you can help. If there isn’t a Council in your county, contact Mary Armstrong-Smith ( to learn how to get one started.

  5. Understand that abuse and neglect can have long term consequences for a child. Stress releases chemicals in the brain that weaken brain architecture and hinder brain development.

  6. Help spread the message that we all have a stake in developing healthy kids. “Children are one third of our population and all of our future.” (Select Panel for the Promotion of Child Health, 1981)

Remember that child maltreatment is a problem with solutions that don’t always receive the attention they should. This is not a problem that should be left only to parents and social workers. Children are everyone’s future!

We must not, in trying to think about how we can make a big difference, ignore the small daily differences we can make which, over time, add up to big differences that we often cannot foresee.” (Marian Wright Edelman)

Internet Safety

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

The internet can be a wonderful and useful tool to enhance our knowledge about any topic. In seconds, we can know the capitol of Guam or how much corn Indiana produces in a single day ( I haven’t actually looked either of these up, but I’m sure the internet could inform us). It keeps us up-to-date on our favorite sports teams and celebrities, and enables us to be linked in at work and school when we need to be. In those same seconds however, a predator can “enter” our homes, and potentially harm our children. It is imperative then, that we teach ourselves, and more importantly our children, some basic internet do’s and don’t’s.

1. Parents! You need to become computer savvy. Learn how to use the internet, and keep up on all of the upgrades and latest security software

2. Find out where your child has access to the internet…school? A friend’s house? The library?

3. Check the history of your internet log to see what sites have been visited

4. Use parental control tools. Your service provider can assist you with determining what is best for your family, and how to use them

5. Keep the computer in a common area of the home. This tactic is not a “cure all”, but it does help in being able to supervise how long your child is spending on-line, as well as what they are doing while on-line

6. Tell your children to never give out any personal information on-line.

7. Do not post pictures of your children on social media outlets, especially if any identifying information is able to be viewed, e.g. the name of their school or sports team on a jacket or jersey, their name on a piece of clothing, etc. Any of these items may enable someone to trace your child’s whereabouts.

8. Keep an open dialogue with your children. Tell them to let you know immediately if someone makes any kind of sexual solicitation toward them (or any type of unwanted contact or message)

9. Model courteous behavior. Never tolerate bullying of any type.

10. There MAYBE some warning signs if a predator has made contact with your child. Your child may be using the computer late at night; may divert the monitor when you enter the room; may start receiving phone calls or gifts.

For more information about internet safety, you may visit, and they have many resources to which you may link.

Some of this information was gleaned from Prevent Child Abuse America

Safe Sleep

Monday, September 14, 2009

All new parents want to welcome their baby home to the safest, sweetest space possible. Therefore, all new parents need to be made aware of “safe sleep” issues. “Safe Sleep” is the term created to encompass several issues so parents can assure their baby of the safest sleep environment possible.

1. Cribs should meet safety requirements. (An easy tool to measure between the rails…a pop can should not be able to fit between the rails.)
2. Nothing should be in the crib, no blankets, toys, stuffed animals, etc.
3. Babies should always be put to sleep ON THEIR BACKS.

These precautions help families rest happily!

Car Seat Safety

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

PCA Indiana Urges Parents and Caregivers to Get Their Child Safety Seats Inspected

Motor vehicle crashes are the leading cause of death for children age 3 to 6 and 8 to 14. In 2007, 6,532 passenger vehicle occupants 14 and younger were involved in fatal crashes.

It’s the responsibility of every parent and caregiver out there to make sure their children are safely restrained – every trip, every time. We are urging everyone to get their child safety seats inspected. When it comes to the safety of a child, there is no room for mistakes.

In 2007, among children under 5, an estimated 358 lives were saved from the use of child safety seats and booster seats. If all children under the age of 5 were restrained, an additional 71 children would have been saved.

National Child Passenger Safety Week (September 12-18) is an annual campaign to bring public attention to the importance of properly securing all children in appropriate child safety seats, booster seats, or seat belts – every trip, every time.

The campaign kicks off on September 12, 2009, with “National Seat Check Saturday,” where certified child passenger safety technicians provide free child safety seat inspections nationwide that educate parents and caregivers on how to install their child’s safety seats properly in their vehicles.

For maximum child passenger safety parents and caregivers should refer to the following 4 Steps for Kids guidelines for determining which restraint system is best suited to protect children based on age and size:

1. For the best possible protection keep infants in the back seat, in rear-facing child safety seats, as long as possible up to the height or weight limit of the particular seat. At a minimum, keep infants rear-facing until at least age 1 and at least 20 pounds.

2. When children outgrow their rear-facing seats (at least age 1 and at least 20 pounds) they should ride in forward-facing child safety seats, in the back seat, until they reach the upper weight or height limit of the particular seat (usually around age 4 and 40 pounds).

3. Once children outgrow their forward-facing seats (usually around age 4 and 40 pounds), they should ride in booster seats, in the back seat, until the vehicle seat belts fit properly. Seat belts fit properly when the lap belt lays across the upper thighs and the shoulder belt fits across the chest (usually at age 8 or when they are 4’9” tall).

4. When children outgrow their booster seats, (usually at age 8 or when they are 4’9” tall) they can use the adult seat belts in the back seat, if they fit properly (lap belt lays across the upper thighs and the shoulder belt fits across the chest).

Remember: All children younger than 13 should ride in the back seat.

For more information on Child Passenger Safety Week, a national effort to remind parents and caregivers of the lifesaving effect child safety seats have in protecting young children, please visit