Thursday, March 20, 2008

Parents Beware....Child Abuse... a very real issue

I am here in the pediatric intensive care unit caring for a beautiful 5 year old diagnosed with a terminal cancer as her parents make every decision possible to prolong her life. Of course, I am not alone in this unit. In every other cubicle there is another nurse like myself caring just as deeply for another child. Some of those children are also terminal, while others have an acute illness or injury where recovery is expected. But in one of these rooms here tonight, there is an innocent infant who was born completely healthy. He didn't become acutely ill. He didn't get an unexpected terminal diagnosis. He wasn't in a car accident. He was shaken, squeezed, and thrown across the room as a result of an adult who lost their temper. And it makes me sad....

In our world filled with the newest technology and the best of the best in merchandise we can not seem to stop child abuse. Not only do we not stop it, we don't really address it frequently. Our media bombards us with visual stimulation daily about what we need to make us happy, or to make our lives better. But do we see many advertisements for helping parents cope when they are frustrated, angry, financially distraught, or overwhelmed being a parent? Do we look for programs in our areas where volunteers are welcome to teach parenting, or to mentor young mothers and fathers?

Here are a few things to keep in mind...

1. Adults get angry and frustrated... especially taking care of and being responsible for a child. But it is NEVER ok to take that anger out on the child. If you find yourself getting mad or out of control, leave the room, walk away, call someone, hit the wall if you have to. But don't hurt your child. And that means any child, any age. No excuses.

2. There are programs out there to help a parent learn parenting skills and coping skills. Call your local Social Service department at your local hospital. Call the non-emergency number of your police department. Call your local church. Call a friend. If you feel yourself getting overwhelmed, find someone to talk to and share your situation. Talk to your family doctor especially if you have had these feelings for sometime. Just call someone...

3. If you are a friend of someone who has anger issues, speak up for the safety of the child. Offer to go with them to speak to someone. Offer babysitting to give the parent a break. Offer to discuss options for whatever situation is causing the frustration. But offer something, it may be the only lifeline that adult receives.

4. Educate yourself as to what programs are available in your area. Volunteer if you can or consider making a monetary donation for the prevention of child abuse. If there are no programs in your area for parents, young or old, consider starting one. Visit local churches to see what programs they offer for parenting, preventing child abuse, and assisting teen moms.

As a society, we should be horrified that the abuse of a child occurs under any circumstances. If we can educate ourselves and others, perhaps one life can be spared. The subject is at least worth our thoughts.

1 comment:

Gayle McCain said...


Thank you for bringing this forward to us. Sometimes being a parent is very, very hard. There are always alternatives to hitting a child. Always.

Gayle McCain