Protecting Children During a Crisis

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Child abuse incidents have increased since most of the country has been sheltering-in-place, and there are a number of reasons why. Stress levels are high in homes across America. Families are stuck at home, jobs have been lost, bills cannot be paid, services cannot be accessed. Just the fact that children are at home with their abusers with no escape to school or after school programming makes abuse more likely. Additionally, mandated reporters such as teachers and childcare providers are not seeing children in person each day.

And although abuse rates are higher, child protective services across the country have seen a decrease in calls made to their abuse and neglect reporting hotlines.

We can do something about this.

Sometimes we need to step in and make a call. As adults, we are morally responsible to report suspected abuse or neglect cases, and doing so plays a part in reducing their frequency.

We can also take it a step further and educate ourselves. I am an authorized facilitator and certified instructor for Darkness to Light, which offers a 30-minute online training titled Protecting Children During a Crisis.

This training helps you to determine potential changes that could disrupt your existing daily life, resulting in new situations that will pose new challenges in prevention and develop personalized strategies to use when potential crisis situations become a reality.

The training also includes some amazing features, such as a crisis plan worksheet that reinforces key concepts and helps you plan for existing or potential changes to your normal life and routine. You’ll find a downloadable Family Code of Conduct Worksheet which details different scenarios, as well as strategies to help guide child sexual abuse prevention within those scenarios. And you’ll see examples of scenarios of what your normal was and how you may need to pivot.

At a time when so many of us feel helpless and aren’t sure what to do, this is something that you can do and will impact your children and all of the children that you know and love.

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Tracy owns Safe Spaces, a consulting and training firm that focuses on building resilient families, communities and organizations (www.sfspcs.com). She is also an Authorized Facilitator and Certified Instructor with Darkness to Light, www.d2l.org, a child sexual abuse prevention organization. Tracy grew up in northeast Ohio, and has lived in Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Arizona, and Northern Virginia and has worked in the arts, in education and most recently as a Public Educator for a child abuse prevention non-profit. Her husband's job brought them to the Bay Area and there's no looking back! Tracy is mom to a 14-year-old daughter and 12-year-old son. Self-care includes getting to know her new community, having lunch with friends, pedicures, reading, cooking, crafting, and just being with her family.

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