Posts Tagged ‘ health and safety ’

Child Abuse: It Happened to Me

Monday, March 18th, 2013

This post was written by a member of the Parents team who, for reasons she shares below, wants to remain anonymous.

Many people think of child abuse as a problem unique to underprivileged kids. For instance, if I told you a story about a little girl who was given two black eyes, had her finger broken, and had her ponytail cut off with a pair of kitchen scissors, you might assume that she was being raised by mentally unstable parents. You might also picture her living in a small, run-down apartment in a poor neighborhood. But what if I told you that this little girl was actually the daughter of a police detective and a kindergarten teacher who were well respected in their middle-class neighborhood? What if I told you that this little girl was me?

As a child, I didn’t know that I was being abused. My parents were usually very nice to me, and only hit me when I was bad and I “deserved” it. When my 7th grade dean saw me kiss my boyfriend in the hallway, I begged her not to call my parents explaining that they would hit me. She told me that she knew my parents very well, and that I shouldn’t make up such stories. She also wasn’t alarmed when I was absent for the next two days. She knew that my parents were good people.

The truth is, my parents really are good people. Their problem was that they had been abused themselves. According to Childhelp.org, 30 percent of children who were victims of abuse and neglect will later abuse their own children, and about 80 percent of abused children will meet the criteria for at least one psychological disorder in their adult lives. As a mother now raising her own little girl, those statistics terrify me.

“Every year 3.3 million reports of child abuse are made in the United States involving nearly 6 million children. The United States has the worst record in the industrialized nation – losing five children every day due to abuse-related deaths,” reports Childhelp.org. And those are just the cases that are reported. Most children are confused about abuse since 80 percent of victims experience physical abuse from their parents – the people who love them the most.

My abuse ended years ago. Since then I’ve started a family of my own, and therapy helped heal my relationship with my parents, but I still feel obligated to write this anonymously. A child’s love for their parents is deeper than any wound that a parent can inflict. Our natural instinct to protect our families is the airtight seal on our painful secret. It’s the reason most children will endure abuse without protest. If I cannot speak freely about past abuse as an adult, imagine how difficult it must be for a child to speak up for himself.

The good news is that we can do something about it. I’m determined to help give a voice to the children who can’t speak up for themselves. I’ve been working with Prevent Child Abuse New York to help raise awareness about this hidden epidemic. On Sunday March 24th, I’ll be participating with my daughter and event organizer Deborah E. Peters in the Walk For Children in Brooklyn. If you are in the area you can register to walk with us at preventchildabuseny.org.

If you know a child who is being abused – even if you are the one doing the abusing – you can get confidential free help by calling the parent helpline at 1-800-CHILDREN from 9am – 10pm every single day.

Abuse harms more than just the children. It harms our families, our communities, and our nation as a whole.

Image: Concept image of child abuse, via Shutterstock

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How to Help Your Kids Fight Against Cavities

Tuesday, February 19th, 2013

Toddler with toothbrushWe all know it’s important to form healthy hygiene habits from an early age — and a specific one is tooth care.  According to the CDC, tooth decay (or cavities) actually “affect children in the United States more than any other chronic infectious disease.”

Dental experts recommend that kids see the dentist by their first birthday, when their teeth are starting to grow, though waiting until they’re 2- or 3-years old is also okay.  Parents should help their children brush and floss until they are old enough, or have developed the fine motor skills, to hold a toothbrush and dental floss on their own.

Guidelines from MouthHealthy.org, a new site from the American Dental Association, recommends these brushing techniques:

  • Place your toothbrush at a 45-degree angle to the gums.
  • Move the brush back and forth gently in short (tooth-wide) strokes.
  • Brush the outer surfaces, the inner surfaces, and the chewing surfaces of the teeth.
  • To clean the inside surfaces of the front teeth, tilt the brush vertically and make several up-and-down strokes.
  • Brush your tongue to remove bacteria and keep your breath fresh.

Since February is Children’s Dental Health Month, brush up on more “toothy” knowledge.  Check out these Parents features:

 

Image: One year old baby boy with toothbrush via Shutterstock.

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Conquering Kids’ Fear of Needles

Thursday, January 24th, 2013

girl getting a shotIf your child is anything like mine, you probably dread vaccination day. When my then 3-year-old daughter wrapped her arms around me, and used every muscle in her little legs to push off of the examination table sending me flying backward into the hall, I have to admit, I deeply considered skipping the next round. But we pushed through them, and now at five, she’s replaced her fear of needles with a fear of large cotton swabs (a strep test — it’s a long story).

Although we’ve all witnessed a runaway kid or two at the pediatrician’s office, the truth behind this needle nightmare is that one in every 10 Americans has a fear needles, or trypanophobia. Digital health media company, Healthline, has called it an under-reported healthcare crisis. Fear of needles can cause a person to skip vaccinations, which puts everyone’s health at risk.

According to Healthline, needle phobia usually develops around age 4 or 5 with a traumatic immunization experience. And if you told your kid that it wasn’t going to hurt, you can bet his immunization experience was traumatic.

According to Healthline’s CEO West Shell, “The key to ending needle phobia is awareness, education, and action. Needle phobia must be addressed and it must be addressed on large public platforms. Fear of snakes or fear of public speaking doesn’t kill people, but fear of needles does.”

Healthline has recently launched a public health campaign to help put an end to needle phobia. Take the End Needle Phobia Pledge, and help prevent your children from developing needle phobia by telling them the truth: shots help to protect them and others from dangerous diseases, and they hurt – but only for a second.

You can also download the first ever app to help children overcome their fear of needles, Pablo the Pufferfish: Big Shots Game.

Our kids get about 30 shots before they turn 5. It’s time we take steps toward making it easier on all of us.

Image: Worried and Afraid Little Girl Receiving An Injection via Shutterstock

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A Visual Guide to Your Child’s Car Safety

Thursday, January 17th, 2013

When driving your kids, parents know how important car safety, especially car seat safety is for babies and for toddlers21st Century Auto Insurance recently created the visual Guide to to Child Car Safety below to offer parents important tips and facts on how to protect kids riding in a car.

The infographic was also created as a part of the 21st Century’s “Baby on Board” contest — parents can show their artistic sides by reimagining and recreating the typical yellow diamond sign.  The grand prize winner receives $10,000 for a baby room makeover, and the deadline for submissions is March 15, 2013.

Plus, don’t forget that recent AAP guidelines urge parents to place their kids in rear-facing car seats until they are at least 2-years-old or have reached the maximum height and weight capacity of the current car seat.  (You can also view this other Ages and Stages of Car Seat Safety infographic.)

Car Seat Safety Infographic - 21st Century Auto Insurance

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