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Editorial: What can be done for kids

At the funeral service for Erica Parsons on Saturday, flyers with tips on preventing and spotting child abuse were distributed. The community has mourned Erica as a victim of abuse and honored her life. This is the next step — protecting other children from meeting a fate like hers.

Prevent Child Abuse Rowan has done important work in this area for nearly 20 years. The group formed after four children died in a string of tragic events in 1997. Since then, determined volunteers and staff have been working through education, intervention and support to stop child abuse.

Awareness is crucial. More people need to be aware that child abuse exists — including abused children themselves, who may think that what’s happening to them is normal, or that terrible things will happen if they tell.

Meanwhile, all adults share responsibility for fighting child abuse. Here are suggestions from that flyer, “What Can Be Done.”

Expand your view. Look for those kids who may be withdrawn or even hidden away. Look for kids who seem to be hurting and lonely. Look for signs of abuse and, even more common, for kids that just seem to need some positive attention and encouragement and give it.

Reach out to families. Those living on the fringe or who seem overwhelmed can be people in desperate need of someone who cares. If a family seems in distress, the children may be suffering. Be a friend; see if you can help meet a need.

Include the overlooked in your life. Many children and families that stay in the shadows do so first of all because they aren’t seen or aren’t invited to step out of those shadows. Go beyond meeting basic needs for people and include them in the other, more-often-positive things in life. Invite them to a cookout, church, etc.

Cry for help. If you think that abuse or neglect may be happening, report it. Don’t have the attitude of, “What if I’m wrong?” or, “It’s no business of mine.” Children are our business. Remember, the identity of those reporting will not be shared with the family being investigated.

Affirm children (and family, as appropriate). Let children know that they are people of value and worth, not useless, mistakes or deserving mistreatment.  Let them (and their families) know there are people who love them and can take care of them. Provide or find the help that is so badly needed.

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