Mums Not Always the Word
There is an expression that says, "Mums the Word". That does not always need to be the case. Sometimes, we must talk about the unspeakable. This can be a downright difficult task, especially when it involves children.
Child abuse affects hundreds of thousands of children every year. This is a difficult topic that adults should encourage conversations about. Parents, other relatives, teachers, coaches, friends, all adults need to be talking about abuse to the kids in our lives. Their lives may very well depend on it.
All forms of child abuse, whether physical, emotional/mental, sexual or neglect, need to be a topic for discussion. Talking to a child does not have to be difficult as it sounds nor does a discussion have to be lengthy.
Find time to sit down, without distractions, for both the child and you. Maybe, sit down over a soda or an ice cream. Tell him/her you want to talk about child abuse. Slowly, but on his/her level, talk about each type of abuse. Based on attention spans, the questions he/she has, or the answers given to your questions, you may need to have a few short talks, rather than one lengthy discussion. You do not want to overwhelm the child with information. Make sure to answer any questions, however, make sure your answers are age appropriate. Be sure to ask opened ended questions. He/she may very well reveal abuse that you had no idea about.
This month is perfect for the discussion since it is child abuse awareness month. You can even make a game of it. Darkness to Light suggests playing a game of "What If?" (we've included a link here to their game suggestion) to assist in this communication process.
You may be wondering what to do if abuse is revealed or even just suspected. The answer is simple. Report it. The authorities will know how to proceed. Make sure you reassure the child he/she did the right thing by talking to you. Let him/her know that the abuse is not his/her fault. If age appropriate, tell the child that you need to report the abuse.
In Georgia, contact Georgia DFCS Child Protective Services at 1-855-GACHILD (1-855-422-4453) 24 hours a day, seven days a week to report child abuse and/or neglect. In case of immediate danger, call 911.
Remember, children depend on adults to protect them! Start your talk today!