Know what child abuse is. Physical and sexual abuse clearly constitutes maltreatment, but so does neglect, which is the failure of a parent or caregiver to provide a child with basic needs such as food, clothing and shelter. Children can also be emotionally abused when they are rejected, berated or continuously isolated. If you suspect a child is being abused, make a report to the Arkansas Child Abuse Hotline at 1-800-482-5964.
Educate yourself and others. Simple support for children and parents can be the best way to prevent child abuse. After-school activities, mentoring programs and respite care are some of the many ways to keep children safe from harm.
Teach children their rights. When children are taught that they are special and have the right to be safe, they are less likely to think abuse is their fault, and more likely to report an offender.
Support prevention programs. Too often, intervention occurs only after abuse is reported. Greater investments are needed in programs that have been proven to stop the abuse before it occurs. Promote programs that teach children, parents and teachers prevention strategies that can help keep children safe.
Volunteer your time. Get involved in our community. Child abuse prevention is everybody’s business! There are many child abuse prevention resources in Union County that need help, i.e. foster care, court-appointed special advocates (CASA), or mentoring.
South Arkansas Children’s Coalition (SACC) is comprised of two child welfare programs – 13th Judicial District South Court Appointed Special Advocates (CASA) and the Children’s Advocacy Center of South Arkansas (CAC). Our CASA program advocates for the best interests of children who have been removed from their homes because of abuse and/or neglect and placed in foster care. Our CAC provides forensic services, advocacy and trauma-focused mental health therapy for children who have been victims of physical or sexual abuse.
SACC is a part of the Union County Violence Intervention Plan (VIP) which serves as a network of area support, opportunities, and activities focused on best practice strategies for a community committed to individuals and families in need.
The VIP is a SHARE Foundation program and can be viewed at www.sharefoundation.com. For more information, call Debbie Watts, SHARE Foundation VP of Community Impact at (870) 881-9015.