Child Abuse Prevention Month 2024

by | Apr 14, 2024 | News

I’ll let you in on a little secret. When I was growing up, we washed our bed sheets every Wednesday. That included shaking our blankets and comforters outside – in any weather – to get the dust off them. As the oldest sister, I was responsible for doing this chore with my mom. I was not a fan.

 

Fast forward several decades. I’m still shaking my bedding, only now with my husband. Every time we step outside, he looks up and down the street and jokes, “Have you ever seen anyone else doing this?” Honestly, no. Well, except my sisters and my adult sons. They shake their bedding too.

 

Family cycles, for better or worse, are difficult to break. Some cycles, like feeling obligated to shake blankets, can be inconsequential or even a little silly. Others, however, can become serious and dangerous obstacles to overcome. Colleen Hoover, in her book It Ends with Us, writes from the perspective of Lily, a woman who witnessed domestic violence as a child between her parents, and then experiences it herself. As she contemplates the vicious cycle continuing with her own daughter, Lily reflects,

 

“Cycles exist because they are excruciating to break. It takes an astronomical amount of pain and courage to disrupt a familiar pattern. Sometimes it’s easier to just keep running in the same familiar circles, rather than facing the fear of jumping and possibly not landing on your feet.”

 

The cycle of child abuse and neglect is difficult to break. Children who are victims of violence often grow up to be perpetrators of violence, especially against their own children. Even if they want to parent differently, they may not know how, and they might not have access to the people and resources to help them.

 

This April, Michigan recognizes Child Abuse & Prevention Month. Our state has chosen the theme Strong Families, Strong Kids, Strong Communities. This theme reflects that we are all interconnected. So how might you contribute to the effort of preventing child abuse and neglect? Children Trust Michigan offers these suggestions:

  • Encourage a supportive spirit among parents in your neighborhood, place of worship, or school
  • Reach out to parents who are struggling and stressed and ask how you can help
  • Share information about local resources that provide materials to cover basic needs
  • Advocate for policies that support families
  • And more

 

At CASA of Kent County, we recognize that the cycle of child abuse and neglect is a community problem that demands a community-centered solution. You can be part of the solution by preventing abuse before it happens, and you can be part of the solution after abuse has already occurred. That’s where CASA steps into the picture. We recruit, train, and empower community members to advocate for children who have been removed from their homes and placed in foster care. We are always looking for more people to spread the word about our mission, recruit volunteers, and donate their support.

 

Back to the character Lily in Colleen Hoover’s book. As she contemplates what she is going to do about the cycle of domestic violence in her life, she kisses her daughter on the forehead and makes her a promise, “It stops here. With me and you. It ends with us.”

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