In observance of National Child Abuse Prevention Month, one Christian organization is raising awareness throughout April after initiating its "Prevention with Purpose" campaign.
Sharen Ford, director of foster care and adoption for Focus on the Family told the Christian Post on Wednesday that it's crucial for people to actively look and listen for signs of abuse or neglect. She noted that the campaign theme focuses on prevention - a key element that can save lives.
"Our Prevention with Purpose campaign is about helping everyone to know that their eyes and ears matter in the life of a child," Ford said. "If you see something that is suspicious, please call and report it. If you hear something that concerns you, a conversation that young children are having or older children and it sounds suspicious, please pick up the phone and report it."
The Child Maltreatment Report revealed that two million children received prevention services in 2019 and that 1,840 died from abuse and neglect that same year.
Ford pointed out that the pandemic has made it difficult for teachers to recognize signs of abuse with their students after classes switched to virtual. But now that in-person classes are resuming, educators must be mindful of any abnormal behavior.
"Some of the teachers haven't seen the children except for on a Zoom classroom meeting, but now the child is being reintegrated to the classroom," Ford said.
"It's not your responsibility to do the investigation, but it's your opportunity to step into a life of a child and maybe save them from abuse that's going on, or also to give services to a family struggling or help so that abuse can be stopped," she added.
Additionally, it is equally essential for churches to be an active part of prevention.
"If you're an outward-facing church, let the community know, 'we are here to serve you,' and every little bit helps," Ford told CP. "If every church did a little bit, every family in the community would know that there is somewhere safe that I can go and connect with. When you are meeting their physical needs, that gives you an opportunity where you can eventually meet their spiritual needs."
Ford added that "the family is the fabric, the bedrock of the community. And if the church were there to serve the family at their initial point of need, hopefully, we can prevent kids from coming into foster care."
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The National Hotline for Child Abuse and Neglect, 1-800-4-A-CHILD (1-800-422-4453), is available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week with crisis counselors who can provide assistance in over 170 languages.
And the hotline offers crisis intervention, information, and referrals to thousands of emergency, social service, and support
resources. It's also able to exchange text messages and online chat is available at childhelphotline.org.
The Bible says that children are a blessing from the Lord. Do you have questions about children, parenting, discipline, or family life? CBN has wonderful resources for you!