According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), one in seven children experienced child abuse and/or neglect in the last year. Stop Child Abuse and Neglect (SCAN), a program of BeLEAF Survivors, has provided school-based child abuse awareness lessons to students in southeastern Wisconsin for more than 35 years. SCAN educates children to recognize abusive situations and to understand that such incidents need to be disclosed right away to trusted adults. Above all, children need to know that abuse is never their fault.
SCAN also has a reminder for parents and caregivers. With the holidays just around the corner, it is important to realize there is often a higher rate of child abuse and neglect during this time. There is greater stress created by the additional expenses of season, extended amount of time children spend at home and greater demands on parents’ time. Parents and caregivers are more susceptible to losing control and, with emotions and tempers flaring, it could be a bad combination. Therefore, it is even more important to recognize resources that are available for children and parents.
There are several things people can do to manage their holiday stress. The first tool is social connections. Having strong social connections has been proven to be beneficial to a person’s well-being. Looking at the holidays as a season to connect with positive people and being able to accept their help and support is an excellent way to alleviate stress. Also, volunteering at an organization you believe in can help you feel better. Utilizing resources in the community to help your own situation is another important step.
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Secondly, having open conversations with children about the holidays is helpful. These conversations can be used to facilitate open-mindedness about how people celebrate holidays differently. They can also be used to set clear expectations about gifts, outings, and behavior. Instead of trying to take on everything, parents can ask children to help with simple tasks and give small concrete steps to accomplish them.
Thirdly, it is important to keep things in perspective. The holiday season is short. If people look at their plans and feel overwhelmed, they can narrow it down to activities that mean the most to their family and save the rest for another time. After the holidays there will be time to catch up on things that got behind. And if things do not go as planned? That is normal. Holidays are not going to be picture-perfect. Keep realistic expectations.
Finally, parents must take care of themselves. Parents need to give themselves the gift of self-care. It is important to get the rest, nutrition and relaxation time they need. Maybe it can even involve the children. For example, a family walk together could be a nice break. As a bonus, having the children stay active will cut down on hyperactivity.
Be a donor
For more information about the Stop Child Abuse & Neglect program of BeLEAF Survivors, email firstname.lastname@example.org or call 262-619-1633. To make a donation to SCAN, mail contributions to their office at 2000 Domanik Drive, 4th Floor, Racine, WI 53404, or visit the donation page at beleafsurvivors.org. Donations are utilized to keep SCAN programming available at no cost to the community. Services are currently funded by donations as well as by the United Way of Racine County and the United Way of Kenosha County.