Understanding and Preventing Child Abuse

With a strong parental bond that starts before a child is born, child abuse can be prevented.

Prevention is at its strongest when parents are not only familiar, but also comfortable with communication, discipline strategies and child development, said Cecelia Diaz-Yap, Family Services Coordinator with Healthy Families Loudoun.

Diaz-Yap and her team work with area families to ensure they have a vibrant future. Through home visits and a structured curriculum, the organization helps parents confidently parent.

“When we go to do the assessment, our parents want to learn how to talk to their children. They don’t want to use physical discipline, but are unsure of how to talk,” said Diaz-Yap. “We take a positive approach when we work with our parents.”

When parents are better able to interpret their children and communicate with them, there is less stress in the home, and it creates a healthier environment for all.

Yelling or angry outbursts aren’t a productive way of communicating frustration or discipline. Instead, Diaz-Yap preaches positive discipline.  

With the focus on good and bad behaviors, not bad children, positive discipline helps children handle complex situations and emotions. The strategy puts emphasis on good behaviors, and teaches children how to handle problems in a calm and respectful way. These double as important social and life skills.

This strategy also promotes positive decision-making.

Proper punishments also play into discipline. Grounding is a common punishment in most families, and a week of grounding seems to a common time frame.

“Do you think that’s realistic?” questioned Diaz-Yap. “Do you think taking the phone away, for example, is realistic?”

The line of discipline and abuse can be blurred, however. A way to tell the difference between abuse and discipline is to examine the role of a parent’s anger, according to the Family Support Alliance. When a parent’s anger is the driving force behind the style punishment, that’s an indicator that the parent may cross the line.

Before a parent punishes a child, the FSA recommends the parent take a moment to cool down and collect their thoughts.

Discipline does not need to be physical. And punishment methods like time-outs or taking away a privilege can be adequate punishments.  But again, is the punishment appropriate?

Ultimately, it’s about baby steps. Any parent or child can change to create a stronger familial bond, and that’s what’s key to child abuse prevention.

About WF Staff

Washington FAMILY Staff

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