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Child Abuse: What would you do?

When becoming a parent, most people know the gravity of the years of responsibility ahead of them. Many people don’t or just don’t care.

April is National Child Abuse Prevention Month. Child abuse happens in many forms such as neglect, physical abuse, sexual abuse, and emotional/ psychological abuse. What would you do if you suspected possible child abuse?

My children are still small and I look forward to when they will be able to do things for themselves- bathe themselves, wash dishes, feed the pets, vacuum. Hmm, I guess you could say I look forward to these things for my own sake.

But what about fun outside activities like going to the park? Riding a bike? At what age can we just say, “See ya” and let them run about?

Over the weekend, I noticed small children unattended at our community playground. Now I am questioning when children develop enough independence to be on their own outside the home, but I do know that it’s not between the ages of 3-6 as the case was for these particular children.

Seeing this automatically made me feel responsible for their safety. If one of them fell and hurt themselves, I wasn’t going to just stand by and watch. I would certainly assist the child and call for help. Eventually I noticed a girl about 12-14 years old a good distance away chatting on her cell phone. The kids went to her to leave. I’m guessing she was a babysitter or an older sister.

I couldn’t help but wonder what I would have done if the children had been there alone. Who would I call? I did find this information to report abuse: http://www.childwelfare.gov/pubs/reslist/rl_dsp.cfm?rs_id=5&rate_chno=11-11172, but what if it wasn't as bad as I thought?

Have you ever been in this sort of situation? What did you do? Being that I’m not a confrontational person, I don’t know if I would have the guts to approach the parent had I seen him or her. Would you say something to the parents? If so, what would you say?

The more we talk about what we can do as a community, the more we can prevent child abuse from happening.

Marguerite Girard April 19, 2011 at 09:33 PM
I have been in a similar situation at Wal-Mart. A small 4-5 year old approached me asking about where a toy belonged. I looked all around and saw no adult. I asked where his mother was and he said he didn't know. He wasn't alarmed at all, but I was. I took his hand and said calmly "let's go find your mom" and we walked around the store until a lady with a buggy and another child looked up from what she was reading and looked back at what she was reading. I approached her and said "I'm so glad I'm not a child molester...please keep your child with you at all times!" In your situation, I probably would have approached the young lady, with the children in tow, and said "with all the weirdos around, be sure to stay very close to these children so nothing bad happens, ok?" Usually, a calm, caring approach is well-received.

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