The Emery County Interagency Local Council teamed up with Child Abuse Prevention Utah to sponsor an evening of education and fun for families. The event, Family Night: Keeping Kids Safe, was held at the Emery County Recreation Center in Castle Dale. It began with dinner and a short presentation by Shelley Chamberlain and Carrie Jensen of Prevent Child Abuse Utah from Salt Lake City.
Chamberlain said that in 2004, 21,000 children were reported as abused in the State of Utah. "The Delta Center will hold about 18,000, so imagine it filled to capacity and an additional 3,000 children standing outside. That is a staggering amount of children affected by abuse," said Chamberlain. "Of those 21,000 children, 12,582 had a foster care case opened."
She went on to say, "Sixty-six percent of those children were abused by a parent, 12 percent were abused by another relative, and 22 percent were abused by strangers, neighbors, teachers, siblings, daycare providers, etc. Child abuse is defined as 'to hurt or harm a child who is 17 years old or younger on purpose.'"
The breakdown of the types of abuse are: 31 percent are domestic violence; 15 percent are neglect; 14 percent are sexual abuse; 11 percent are physical abuse; and 6 percent are emotional abuse. In Utah, a child only needs to hear their parents in a domestic dispute for it to be considered abuse.
Parents can avoid abusing their children by learning good parenting skills. (1) Understand your child's behavior and needs and don't let your own needs outweigh those of your child. (2) Develop your parenting style. Most parenting programs deal with setting up family rules and then using natural consequences and consistent follow through. (3) Understand what normal development is and do not have unrealistic expectations for your child. Adults who do not understand normal stages of development in children may expect them to behave in ways beyond their capacity. Speak with your child's doctor, research on the internet, and check books out of the library on child development. (4) Get your emotional needs met. Adults who do not relate well to other adults may expect children to satisfy their needs for love, protection, self-esteem, and sexual gratification. (5) Have a support system. Adults who have no support system, who are isolated geographically or emotionally from family and friends, may take out their frustration on children. (6) Limit drug and alcohol use. Problems with drugs and alcohol abuse limit the ability of adults to care properly for children. (7) Deal with major disruptions in your normal way of life-death, divorce, loss of income, illness or injury. Don't be afraid to ask others for help and support. (8) Work on your communication skills. (9) Work on your anger management skills. (10) Parents can work to keep their children safe in their own home, but we need to ensure their safety when they are away from us. Currently there are abuse cases in the news about children being abused at school by teachers and other students, children being abused while at church, and by day care providers.
Most of the time when a child is abused they know the person that is hurting them. So we need to teach our children more than stranger danger rules, we need to teach them safety rules. Teach your children the different types of abuse and what to do if they are being hurt. Keep an open line of communication with your child so they feel comfortable coming to you if they need help.
Jensen introduced the children to Safety Saurus. Safety Saurus is a puppet who taught the children the three safety rules in a song. Listen to the uh-oh feeling, say no, and go tell are the rules.
Following the Safety Saurus song, Jensen handed out games and prizes. The games are designed to teach parents how to teach the children to keep themselves safe.
For more information or help with a problem concerning child abuse, contact Gareldine Wright at 435-381-2827.