April is Child Abuse Prevention Month in the US, where 906,000 children are victims of abuse or neglect every year.

Risk factors include family history of abuse, stress and lack of support, alcohol or drug abuse, and domestic violence. The majority of children in out-of-home care are victims of abuse.

Preventing child abuse is the responsibility of society and benefits everyone. But the sad fact is that we can’t protect all of the children all of the time, so learning effective ways of helping them cope and heal is equally important. Below are some suggestions to help stem the tide of abuse, followed by a list of recommended books and training resources for helping abused children recover.

Simple Prevention Tips:
• 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. The earlier abused children get help, the greater the chance they will heal from their abuse and break the cycle of abuse.

Kids who have been removed from their home due to maltreatment are likely to feel grief, distrust, and a heightened sense of fear. How they behave in response to their feelings varies wildly; some withdraw, some regress, some become violent, some self-harm, some bully other children, some become the target of bullies. It’s impossible to become an expert on all of the behaviors displayed by maltreated children, but if you start with a basic understanding of the issues and supplement that with targeted books and classes, you can get pretty close.

The FosterParentCollege.com (FPC) course “Child Abuse and Neglect” provides a solid foundation for recognizing and understanding child maltreatment.

In addition, FPC faculty members Rick Delaney and Charley Joyce co-authored the book, “Behavior with a Purpose: Thoughtful Solutions to Common Problems of Adoptive, Foster and Kinship Youth,” which is sold on our sister site, www.SocialLearning.com . The book is written from the point of view that
understanding the motivations behind challenging child behaviors can help a
parent create a context and support for healing.

We also recommend “Wounded Children, Healing Homes: How Traumatized Children
Impact Adoptive and Foster Families,” “The Boy Who Was Raised as a Dog,” and
“Parenting the Hurt Child.” All are available on www.SocialLearning.com

There are FPC classes on R.A.D., anger, sexualized behavior and other specific behavior challenges common among abused children. Free previews of all classes are available on www.fosterparentcollege.com

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.:
Childhelp National Child Abuse Hotline 1-800-4-A-CHILD (1-800-422-4453)

To get help for child sexual abuse, call any of these resources:
Stop It Now 1-888-PREVENT (1-888-773-8368) and
Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network
(RAINN) 1-800-656-HOPE (1-800-656-4673)

Author's Bio: 

Lisa Siegle is the writer and editor for Northwest Media, Inc., parent company of FosterParentCollege.com, Vstreet.com and SocialLearning.com.