April is National Child Abuse Awareness Month and amazingly almost everyone knows someone who has been, or is currently being affected by child abuse. Yet, most people really do not know what to do about it. Can one person really make much of a difference? Absolutely! First it helps to understand a few basics. Sometimes, when a teen or child has been sexually or physically abused, they are too humiliated to tell anyone and tend to hold that information inside. That silence is a heavy burden and often drains their self-esteem. Completely understandable! Victims may wait months or years before they tell someone, or may choose to never tell anyone. They fear that they will be judged negatively, blamed for what happened, or alienated. Victims speak up at great risk of more losses due to how others may react.
We can all change that and make it easier for victims to speak up so they can get help, release the silence, and reclaim their self-esteem. Here are a few simple and significant ways that everyone can participate to create a community that is safer for children and teens.
STEP 1 – LISTEN with kindness. If someone trusts you enough to share such private and scary information, you are being honored with their trust. Thank them for trusting you enough to share their story. Observe their sigh of relief!
STEP 2 – SUPPORT with caring. Ask if there is anything you can do to support them. Just offering that will mean so much! This feels like a gift to the person who trusts you!
STEP 3 – REPORT to an adult who can do something about it. Adults need to take action to ensure kids and teens are safe and get the help they need and deserve!
Anyone can call the Utah 24-hour child abuse reporting hotline or their local police department. 1-855-323-DCFS (3237)
Victims will have an easier time handling the next steps ahead when they know that people care about them and have their backs. Responding to child abuse prevents future child abuse. You can be the one to make that difference and shatter the silence of abuse and create a community of support!
If you have questions and not sure who to call please contact Salt Lake County Youth Services at 385-468-4500. If you have specific questions about child abuse or want to know more about the Children’s Justice Center go to www.cjcslc.org or call the centers located in the Avenues at 385-468-4560 and West Jordan at 385-468-4580.