COLORADO SPRINGS — Each year in April, the President of the United States issues a proclamation to announce National Child Abuse Prevention Month. Many State Governors also issue proclamations to encourage public awareness of child abuse and neglect, recommit State resources to the cause, and promote community involvement through State and local activities.
This year it’s especially important to be aware of child abuse and neglect during our current situation of stemming the tide of a global pandemic that is creating situations of isolation and stress.
The amount of calls to the Colorado Child Abuse and Neglect hotline as of early April were down nearly fifty percent, and experts doubt that incidents are down during our national crisis.
Hilary Bridges is the assistant executive director of Kids Crossing in Colorado. “We know stress is a risk factor, and we know isolation is a risk factor, losing a job - all of those things are really big risk factors for families and the safety of the kiddos they care for.”
When things are going wrong in a family, it often takes someone not in the household to take the loving step of raising a concern.
Hillary says, “The community plays a huge role in preventing and treating and responding to child abuse. Loved ones also play a very important role and it’s really important that if there is a concern, if you have a reason to be worried, call and let somebody investigate and look into it and help a family get connected to resources so we can keep kids and feeling safe.”
While it's not business as usual for our many community resources to combat child abuse and neglect, even now if you need help reach out because help is still there.
“Agencies like Kids Crossing are still open and taking referrals for new families in need. We are still doing treatment with the families that we were seeing before [the stay at home order]. We have had to change our day-to-day practices, but there are a lot of services and individual therapy is still happening on virtual platforms like video chat or over telephone if you need support.”
During this time of added isolation it's important to remember help doesn’t always have to come in the form of an organization to improve a difficult situation.
Hillary says it’s more important than ever to, “Reach out to friends and family because connection is so important and reduces stress. It's hard to not be able to relieve stress in person right now, but talking on the telephone and sending text messages or over video chats are all really helpful.”
Inside your own home you can keep things on track by making sure isolation in our home doesn’t mean also being by yourself.
“It's a struggle for sure but it’s important to keep a routine as much as possible. Try to stick to that routine where you can. We're all together but that doesn't mean we're all connected in our homes all the time. Try to really connect as a family and with our loved ones that we share our homes with. Laugh and play and get connected as much as possible.
If would like more information on child abuse prevention and awareness please reach out to the staff at Kids Crossing, or any of the other resources listed below.
National Child Abuse Awareness Month 2020
Colorado Child Abuse and Negelect Hotline