KIDS: You Can't Beat Them!

Making sure that kids are cared for every day is harder than ever before. As families try to juggle job, family, home life, and other responsibilities they often feel isolated and overwhelmed. Result? Children get ignored or abused.

Deciding to "help out" when you think children are being mistreated isn't easy. Even the community-minded have become more reluctant to get involved in protecting children, fearing that it might result in further harm to kids or themselves. Sadly, the abuse and neglect of our children persists.

Nationally in 1995, nearly 3 million children were abused and neglected. In Hawai`i, confirmed cases of child abuse and neglect have more than tripled, with more than 11reported every day.

Children continue to be mistreated through:

  • Physical abuse: non-accidental injury by a caregiver.
  • Neglect: failure to meet basic human needs of affection, adequate food, shelter, and safety.
  • Sexual abuse: rape, fondling of the genitals, pornography.
  • Emotional abuse: habitual attacks on emotional development and self-esteem, such as insulting, belittling, constantly criticizing, and degrading.
Costs of abuse and neglect
Kids rely on their parents and others to keep them safe. They're not ready to protect themselves. Trying to do so robs them of their childhood and the precious resources they need to learn, mature, and grow up healthy.

Abuse and neglect negatively affects both victims and society. Child abuse increases the chances of social, mental, and physical problems that may result in learning disabilities, depression, suicide, drug abuse, violence, and criminal behaviors. About 90% of serious crimes were committed by victims of childhood abuse.

You can make a difference!
Throughout childhood, kids need close meaningful relationships with people who care about them. They depend on adults to survive and thrive. They need our time, energy, love and support to reach their full potential.

Families also need our support They need interaction with caring individuals and groups. When people get to know one another and become actively involved toward a common purpose, they're able to create safer, happier communities.

Child abuse is costly to us all. The irony is that its preventable! Everyone can help, including you. You can:

  • Accept children and understand that they need to be kids.
  • Learn about kids at different ages and stages including those with and without disabilities, so that your expectations of them arerealistic.
  • Get to know kids better. Foster supportive relationships with them. Reserve time each week to read, talk, tell stories, look at photo albums, or simply laugh and play.
  • Help promote enough appropriate neighborhood activities to encourage their varied interests and capabilities.
  • Work with other families in the neighborhood to improve and maintain peace and safety in the area.
  • Include neighborhood kids in your family routines and activities. Include "difficult" kids in activities with your children. You might have just what it takes to give the attention they need.
  • Offer to take care of friends' kids once in a while. Child care is hard, but important work. People raising kids need a break now and then.
  • Stretch yourself -- volunteer at your local school.
  • Check for, evaluate, and improve "family-friendly" practices and policies at your workplace. For example, does your employer support community and school activities in any way? What would make the efforts stronger?
  • Refuse to tolerate maltreatment of children! Learn enough about child abuse and neglect so you can do something helpful when you see it happening.
  • Enjoy the sense of accomplishment and reap the rewards and benefits of giving daily service. Decide how you'll contribute time, talent, or money to projects that improve our community.
It takes just one person--not necessarily a parent--to make a positive impact on a child for life. A caring adult like you, a little time, and simple actions can provide children with a positive role model and some hope for now and the future. Remember, helping kids means helping families and communities to grow up together! You can make a difference. Kids are worth your efforts--you can't beat them!

Resources
Contact the following organizations for information and educational materials.

Prevent Child Abuse Hawai`i, (808) 951-0200
Ask-2000, (808) 257-2000
The Center on the Family, University of Hawai`i, (808) 956-4132
Emergency Resources
If you're worried about a child's safety and too frightened to intervene, you can phone the Child Protective Service (CPS) or police to make an anonymous report.
Oahu, (808) 832-5300
East Hawai`i, (808) 974-6565 or 911
West Hawai`i, (808) 329-9344 or 911
Maui, (808) 244-7405 or 911
Molokai, (808) 553-5355 or 911
Kauai, (808) 274-3320 or 911
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