If the President of the United States, many governors, mayors, and other leaders publicly proclaim the need to end child abuse, WHY is "spanking" still allowed in our country? WHY is it that the word "spanking" makes hitting smaller, more vulnerable people acceptable to some? WHY do we call ourselves one of the most advanced countries in the world, when many others have recognized the negative personal and social repercussions of hitting children and have outlawed it, before us?
This month is National Child Abuse Prevention Month, and April 30th is National "Spank out Day". If you are interested spreading the word about more positive alternatives than spanking, as well as information to help prevent child abuse by supporting parents, check out the links I already included and these too:
* Ideas from the Blue Ribbons for Kids campaign
* An international resource for legislative change
I know from experience that one of the most difficult things to do, but which can be immediately helpful in preventing child abuse, is to speak up when you publicly witness situations where there is potential for abuse. Here are some tips from The Ounce of Prevention Fund of Florida, which I hope will help in such a situation.
Praise the parent or child at the first opportunity. Think of something positive to say and say it! It helps to hear others are supportive of you.
Identify with the parent. You can let them know you’ve been there by saying, “My kids used to do the same thing when they were that age. Is there anything I can do to help?”
Blame the environment. “This is such a bright and colorful place and filled with things for children to want to touch. I swear the supermarkets have really done a great job at creating a place where children just want to run around.”
Offer assistance. “You seem to really have your hands full. Can I help you?” Or, “Can I find someone to come and help you with something?”
Empathize with the child. “You don’t feel like sitting in that stroller anymore, do you? Well just a little longer and Mommy/Daddy will be all done and you can get out.”
If you are concerned about the physical safety of the child, then offer assistance. For example, if a child is left unattended, stand by the child until the parent returns.
Any assistance you can offer a stressed parent will help them take a few seconds to take a deep breath and calm down.
When I witness mistreatment of others, especially children, I definitely need to take lots of deep breaths! I hope we can all learn to breath and be more peaceful!