In the words of Nelson Mandela, “There can be no keener revelation of a society’s soul than the way in which it treats its children”. Unfortunately for Australia, we have some work to do in restoring the state of our soul in this sense; all while advocating and caring for those who are at the heart of our society’s wellbeing and success tomorrow, our children. While it may come as a surprise, sadly in 2017-18, over 32,000 Australian children were proven to have been abused or neglected last year, according to the National Association for the Prevention of Child Abuse and Neglect (NAPCAN).
If this gloomy topic has ignited a lightbulb for you, it may be because National Child Protection Week passed just earlier this month. Held by NAPCAN, this week plays an important role in spotlighting the severity of this issue each year, while further illuminating the profile of issues connected with child protection.
Although the week is now over, we must ensure we don’t let this light go out. Afterall, for young victims of abuse – the physical and mental pain that can be caused can last a lifetime, and nobody deserves a lifetime of darkness… Especially those who are expected to light the way for our communities of tomorrow.
Constructing stronger communities to build–up our children
While the issue of child abuse and/or neglect is both complex and can often go unseen – there are measures we, as community members, can put in place to give these children a voice, and assist in preventing such issues happening in the first place.
What can you do?
We all play a role in identifying and acting on suspicions of abuse and neglect and if you believe a child is in immediate danger or a life-threatening situation that you should always call emergency services on 000. However, the community can play a vital role well before many families get to this crisis point.
- Help a friend, neighbour or relative with respite – being a parent isn’t easy! Offer a helping hand to take care of the children, so the parent(s) can rest or spend time together.
- Discovering local services in your area that could help at-risk families including mental health, relationship counselling, parenting education, mediation services or organisations that can assist with financial stress e.g. food and shelter, transportation or clothing.
- Provide social connections – parents with connections to family and friends have a support network to help them deal with stress. Isolated parents are known to be at greater risk for child abuse and neglect.
Some ways CRS is helping reduce family conflict
Disagreement is part of life – destructive conflict doesn’t have to be. Family conflict is one of the many risk factors for child abuse and neglect and CRS support many Canberra families to manage family conflict and the stress of separation through programs such as:
- Family Support Program supports families and young people who are experiencing homelessness or at risk of becoming homeless due to family conflict.
- Child Inclusive Practice (CIP) is a way for separating parents to learn more about how their child is experiencing and reacting to their separation.