The children and teens of today are our hope for tomorrow. It’s important for us as parents, caring adults and communities to help set young people on the path for a healthy future and support them as they work to create positive change. April is Sexual Assault Awareness Month, and this year’s campaign is focused on youth. This April, It’s time … to talk about it! Your voice. Our future. Prevent Sexual Violence, and this campaign encourages individuals and communities to support healthy sexual development.
Young people face many challenges during adolescence. Stereotypes and negative messages in the media don’t make this process easy. By learning and talking about healthy adolescent sexuality, adults are able to support the teens in their lives. It’s time for adults and communities to be a resource to teens so they learn and grow.
How can we support teens during this time of change and discovery? Young people need age appropriate information about healthy sexuality and relationships from trusted adults. The first step is to start an open and honest dialogue. Ask questions and, most importantly, listen. We can all play a role in modeling healthy behaviors, promoting positive skills, and creating safe environments. It’s important to empower the voices of youth and challenge negative, unhealthy messages.
It’s OK if you don’t have all the answers. It’s more important to welcome questions and learn together. To create a vision for a future without sexual violence, every voice can play a role in a healthier, safer tomorrow for all.
You can use your voice to start the conversation. You can support the voices of young people, and together we can amplify our voices for a healthy future. For more information parent’s can visit www.nsvrc.org/saam.
It’s time … to talk about it! SCVP operates a sexual assault crisis center (Piedmont Crisis Center) 1-888-819-2926.
Child Abuse Awareness
WHAT IS CHILD ABUSE OR NEGLECT?
Under the law, an abused or neglected child is any child under 18 whose parent, or any other person responsible for the care of the child:
- causes, or threatens to cause, a physical or mental injury except for an accident.
- fails to provide adequate food, clothing, shelter, medical care, or caring support.
- abandons the child.
- fails to provide the kind of supervision necessary for a child’s age or level of development.
- commits, or allows to be committed, any illegal sexual act involving the child — including incest, rape, fondling, indecent exposure, prostitution — or allows the child to be used in any sexually explicit visual material.
Child abuse is not usually just one physical attack or just one instance of failure to meet a child’s most basic needs. Usually child abuse is a pattern of behavior that takes place over a period of time. The longer child abuse continues, the more serious it becomes, the more serious the injury to the child is and the more difficult it is to stop.
WHO ARE THE ABUSERS?
There are no monsters. Abusers can be parents, friends, your neighbors or your relatives. They are ordinary people, caught in life situations beyond their control. It is a myth that child abuse occurs only among poor families. Child maltreatment affects all economic, racial, social, ethnic and religious groups.
WHY DOES CHILD ABUSE HAPPEN?
There is no easy answer to this question, because many factors are involved. However, child abuse is most likely to occur when parents are struggling with:
Stress…Pressures from money problems, everyday frustrations, illness or heavy responsibilities.
A painful childhood…Adults who were mistreated as children may, without meaning to, continue the pattern of abuse with their own children.
Alcohol or other drugs…can blind a parent to a child’s needs or may reduce inhibitions and tolerance levels so that parents may be more likely to lash out.
Isolation…Without friends or relatives nearby, parents can feel overwhelmed by the demands of raising a child.
Inexperience with children or unrealistic expectations…If parents don’t know what to expect from children, they may expect too much. Besides lacking the parenting skills necessary to raise a child, the parents may have no models of successful family relationships from which to learn.
Immaturity…Very young, insecure parents often can’t understand their child’s behavior and needs.
Unmet emotional needs…Parents may expect children to take care of them and to satisfy their need for love, protection and self-esteem.
IF I SEE ABUSE, SHOULD I REPORT IT?
Witnesses to abuse or neglect may experience anger, dread or anxiety, and they will certainly experience a lot of confusion. Although deciding to report suspected child abuse can be a difficult process, it is an important first step toward protecting a child who might be in danger.
HOW DO I REPORT ABUSE OR NEGLECT?
To report abuse, call the social services agency where the child lives or where the abuse occurred. Ask for Child Protective Services and give them the name, age and address of the child and a description of what is happening. You are not required to give your name, but it helps.
Virginia also maintains a 24 hour hotline for reporting child abuse and neglect. The number is: Virginia Child Abuse and Neglect Hotline 1-800-552-7096 (voice/TTY)
Madeline’s House Opens Satellite Offices
Madeline’s House has established ten satellite offices throughout its 12 county service area. This outreach initiative will enable victims of domestic and sexual violence in this predominantly rural area to have easier access to critical services. Currently satellite offices are located in 6 strategically chosen counties allowing the greatest access to everyone in this very large service area. Future plans are to have at least one satellite office in all 12 counties.
Among services offered at these satellite offices are: personal case management and individual supportive counseling, safety planning, victim / court advocacy, assistance with obtaining protective orders and document recovery, life skills assessment and training options, assistance with job and house searches, assistance in seeking appropriate legal and medical counsel, information and referral assistance, and arrangements for sheltering if needed. All services are free and no appointment is needed. Call 1.888.819.2926 for location and satellite office hours.
Madeline’s House will continue serving victims of violence at its shelter location as it has done for 14 years. This new satellite office program is just one more way victims of abuse can reach out for help.
In addition to this new outreach effort, presentations and workshops remain available to community and professional groups. If your group would like to schedule a presentation or workshop, or if you have a personal question, call our office at 434.292.1077 or 1.888.819.2926. Our professional staff are trained and certified in many areas related to domestic and sexual violence.