“Kids-You can’t beat ‘em”, was one of the first logos in 1983, when President Reagan proclaimed April to be the first National Child Abuse Prevention Month. I love the dual meaning of this statement. We can’t be physically aggressive with kids. But equally as important, is the message that there is special value in children. Thirty years later, we continue to promote the value of our children and their families, as well as the fact that every member of the community has a responsibility to help prevent child abuse and neglect.
If you would like information on how to get involved in promoting the value of children and families, give us a call on the Family Support Line, at 877-695-7996 or via email at stacy@FamiliesFirstColorado.org.
Preventing child abuse and neglect can sound like an overwhelming task, but it really comes down to some basic things that we all can do to help strengthen families. Research shows that there are five protective factors that help strengthen families. These factors act like buffers to stress and increase the health and well-being of children and families.
The Protective Factors are:
Concrete Supports for Parents
Social Connections and Emotional Competence
Knowledge of Parenting and of Child/Youth Development
Nurturing and Attachment
Denver Human Services did a great campaign this year for April’s Child Abuse Prevention Month that makes it easy to remember the protective factors. It is entitled 5 Ways to Keep Families Stable, Help Kids Thrive and Uphold a Strong Community:
1.) Call for Help!
2.) Surround Yourselves with Friends and Family
3.) Be a Bounce Back Family
4.) Become a Parenting Ace
5.) Help Children Express Themselves
Concrete Supports for Parents, also known as supports for basic needs, is the first protective factor that needs to be addressed. Families need to have their basic needs meet before they can focus on the other factors that will strengthen them. Find these concrete supports for your own family and help other families locate them as well. You can locate these supports within your community in a variety of ways, including local non-profits (such as the Family Support Line at Families First), faith based communities and social service agencies. These groups and agencies will partner with parents to help identify and access resources in the community such as food, clothing, housing, quality childcare, health and dental care, social-emotional services, and variety of other resources.
Another factor is Social Connections and Emotional Competence. This boils down to surrounding yourself and your children with friends and family. It is very important for both adults and children to have Social Connections. When adults have social connections they are modeling for the children around them how to interact with others and their world. The same is true for emotional competence, when we as grown-ups work on our own emotional health; we are modeling emotional wellness for our children. If you do not have supportive friends and family, consider neighbors, spiritual groups, the local child/parent play group, or your child’s school. There are a variety of places to find connections for yourself and your child. If you or another adult you know does not have a support system, consider joining a Parent Support Group. Families First offers Circle of Parents ® Support groups and can also connect you with other support groups across the state.
Parental Resilience is the ability to cope with stresses, both the day-to-day stresses, as well as the occasional crisis. This is sometimes described as being a “bounce back” person or family. Are you able to bounce back when things get tough? The other two Protective Factors we had mentioned, Concrete Support and Social Connections, can both help to increase a person’s resilience. Having someone that can help you talk through a stress increases the chance a person will bounce back from the stress.
The protective factor, Knowledge of Parenting & Child Development is becoming informed as a parent about ways to communicate with your child, set rules and expectations, and provide safe opportunities that promote independence. These things need to be done while taking the child’s current development into consideration. Healthy child development and effective parenting are connected. If you would like to learn more about effective parenting or child development consider attending a parenting class or support group.
The final protective factor is Nurturing and Attachment, last, but not least by any means! In fact, most times this is the first factor listed due to the importance of nurturing and attachment. A child’s early experience of being loved and cared for by a safe, reliable adult has an effect on all aspects of their life. It will determine how they treat others and how they allow others to treat them as they grow into adulthood. Nurturing and attachment are crucial not just when a child is young, but throughout their lives. This can set the stage for the other factors to develop.
These five factors are not only good for the parent-child relationship, but they help to decrease stress on an individual level, as well as a community level. If individuals are less stressed, then their relationships will be less stressed, which will produce a less stressed community as a whole. Pick one factor and work on fine-tuning it to increase your protection against stress. Don’t know where to find the resources, social supports, parenting classes? Need someone to listen when you are stressed or a place to Brainstorm ideas? Call Families First at 877-695-7996 or email us at stacy@FamiliesFirstColorado.org. We would love to help you tackle a protective factor!
We also have a Spanish Family Support Line at 866-527-3264 or maria@FamiliesFirstColroado.org. Check us out on Facebook at Families First Colorado. The Family Support Line offers parenting tips, resources and information only and does not serve as legal or mental health advice. We believe you are the paramount person to decide what is best for your family. Comments provided by non-Families First individuals are not the opinion of Families First.