Child abuse is a painful reality, but one that is preventable. As caring, thinking adults, we could have a profound impact on the lives of vulnerable children if each and every one of us reached out to other adults and inspired them to help protect kids. As a community, we can make a difference in the lives of children and families.

In the US alone, 906,000 children are victims of abuse or neglect every year. Neglect is the most common form of abuse, but emotional, physical and sexual abuse are painfully common as well. Risk factors include family history of abuse, stress and lack of support, alcohol or drug abuse, and domestic violence.

Here are some suggestions to help stem the tide of abuse:

• support struggling parents—offer to babysit so they can take a break, look for work, or take a class
• build positive relationships with the kids in your church and neighborhood
• tell kids they deserve to be treated well by all adults, and to speak up if someone hurts them
• volunteer in your local school or after-school program
• if your community has a relief nursery, learn about volunteer opportunities there
• donate to the food bank or family shelter in your area
• volunteer at or support a substance abuse rehab center
• report abuse

One of the most painful effects of child abuse is its tendency to repeat itself. One-third of abused or neglected children will grow up to become abusive parents. Outsiders may be reluctant to interfere, but doing just that can get the family the help they need, and the earlier abused children get help, the greater the chance they will heal from their abuse and break the cycle of abuse.

Reporting Abuse
If you suspect a child is in immediate danger, call 9-1-1. Otherwise, talk with the child’s school, contact family services, or call one of the toll-free numbers below:

To get help in the U.S., call 1-800-4-A-CHILD (1-800-422-4453) – Childhelp National Child Abuse Hotline

To get help for child sexual abuse, call
1-888-PREVENT (1-888-773-8368)--Stop It Now, or
1-800-656-HOPE--Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network (RAINN)

Foster Parent College and its sister site,, are strong proponents of mentoring youth. Statistics show that no matter what a child or teen has experienced, the consistent support and encouragement of a responsible and caring adult can have a powerful and positive impact on the child.

Some mentoring programs we like are: CASA/GAL, Committed Partners for Youth, City Year, Youth Mentoring Connection, Big Brothers Big Sisters, 4-H, Boys and Girls Aid Society, Boys and Girls Club.

Author's Bio: 

Lisa Siegle is the writer and editor for Northwest Media, Inc., publisher and producer of Foster Parent College and She is a mother of three teenagers and a former foster mother.