In 2014, Bexar County had 5,434* confirmed victims of child abuse and neglect. In most cases, the child knows the abuser. St. PJ’s cares for these children, providing a safe place to stay and healing them from the effects of abuse and neglect. *DFPS Data as of 11/07/14.

In 2013 1,484 children in the U.S. died as a result of abuse or neglect. Source: Child Maltreatment 2013 (U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Administration on Children, Youth and Families,Children’s Bureau)

April is Child Abuse Prevention Awareness Month

April was first declared Child Abuse Prevention Month by presidential proclamation in 1983. Since then, April has been a time to acknowledge the importance of families and communities working together to prevent child abuse.

Blue is the color for Child Abuse Prevention Awareness Month

Why Blue?

The blue ribbon became the emblem of the project following the example of Bonnie Finney.[15] In the spring of 1989, Bonnie Finney of Virginia tied a blue ribbon to her car antenna, as tribute to her three year-old grandson, Michael Bubba Dickinson, who died at the hands of his abusive mother, Belinda Finney Dickinson and her boyfriend. The blue color of the ribbon symbolizes the color of bruises.

Break the Cycle of Abuse

 REPORT IT -800-252-5400 or txabusehotline.org

Call 911 or your local law enforcement agency if the situation is an emergency.

Use this number to report:

  • Abuse, neglect, or exploitation of children, the elderly, or people with disabilities
  • Violations of minimum standards in a child care operation.

Texas law says anyone who thinks a child, or person 65 years or older, or an adult with disabilities is being abused, neglected, or exploited must report it to DFPS. A person who reports abuse in good faith is immune from civil or criminal liability. DFPS keeps the name of the person making the report confidential. Anyone who does not report suspected abuse can be held liable for a misdemeanor or felony. Time frames for investigating reports are based on the severity of the allegations. Reporting suspected abuse makes it possible for a family to get help. Source: https://www.dfps.state.tx.us/

En Español

 

How do I know when to make a report?

  1. Physical abuse includes actions such as beating, burning, or punching a child.
  2. Emotional abuse may involve criticizing, insulting, rejecting, or withholding love from a child.
  3. Sexual abuse includes rape, touching or fondling, or involving a child in pornography.
  4. Neglect includes failure to provide for a child’s basic physical, medical, or emotional needs. Leaving a young child home alone or failing to provide needed medical care may also be considered neglect.

General Signs of Abuse

Abused children might seem:

  • Nervous around adults or afraid of certain adults.
  • Reluctant to go home (coming to school early or staying late, for example).
  • Very passive and withdrawn or aggressive and disruptive.
  • Tired a lot, or they might complain of nightmares or not sleeping well.
  • Fearful and anxious.

Signs of Neglect

  • Missing school a lot.
  • Begging for food, stealing food, or stealing money for food.
  • Lacking needed medical or dental care.
  • Being frequently dirty.
  • Using alcohol or other drugs.
  • Saying there is no one at home to take care of them.

Signs of Physical Abuse

  • Unexplained burns, bruises, black eyes, or other injuries.
  • Apparent fear of a parent or caretaker.
  • Faded bruises or healing injuries after missing school.

Signs of Sexual Abuse

  • Difficulty walking or sitting, or other indications of injury in the genital area.
  • Sexual knowledge or behavior beyond what is normal for the child’s age.
  • Running away from home.

Signs of Emotional Abuse

  • Acting overly mature or immature for the child’s age.
  • Extreme changes in behavior.
  • Delays in physical or emotional development.
  • Attempted suicide.
  • Lack of emotional attachment to the parent.

Being a parent is hard, and every parent needs help from time to time.

  • Are your kids driving you crazy?
  • Do you yell at them a lot?
  • Are you stressed out?
  • Trouble paying the bills?
  • Are drugs or alcohol a problem?
  • Feeling hopeless and don’t know where to turn?

 

Parenting is a blessing. But – parenting can be stressful! This is why it is important for you to know what your personal triggers are, identify your supports, and know when and how to take care of yourself. It might sound easy, but it is most difficult to control reactions during moments of stress. This is why it is important to have A PLAN.

At St. PJ’s, one of our key processes involves identifying a Therapeutic Intervention Plan (or “TIP Sheet”), otherwise known as a Safety Plan. Planning is key to prevention.

What is your SAFETY PLAN?

Make a list.

  • Body signs: (Examples: feeling tense, stomach ache, headache, shoulder tension)
  • Feelings: (Examples: anger, frustration, revenge)
  • Thoughts: (Examples: “he’s not going to get away with this,” “she’s a selfish brat”)
  • Verbal signs: (Examples: saying hurtful things, put-downs, criticism)
  • Actions: (Examples: pointing your finger, getting too close to the person, slamming your fist)

Self-care is an important part of surviving, especially when you are a parent. How do you cope with stress? Do you exercise? Do you take a bubble bath at the end of the day? Do you read? Do you pray? What about in the moment of stress? Do you close your eyes and take deep breaths? Do you go to the restroom for 5 minutes to compose yourself to avoid parenting when too angry? You should have several coping skills that you are able to use in the moment, and at the end of an extra difficult day or perhaps week, that you can “pull” from. Below is a list of possible self-care strategies that you may want to add to your “toolkit”. 

Identify people can help you when you need a time-out. Examples:

  • Significant other
  • Family member
  • Friend
When you mean it, you write it.  Write down your safety plan to reduce conflict and avoid abuse. Put it all together by knowing who you can count on when you need a break to cope with your red flags. 

 

Tips for Coping

  • Ask yourself what you can do about the sources of your stress. Think through the pros and cons. Take action where you can.
  • Keep a positive, realistic attitude. Accept that although you can’t control certain things, you’re in charge of how you respond.
  • Learn and practice relaxation techniques. Try breathing exercises, meditation, prayer, yoga, or tai chi.
  • Exercise regularly. You’ll feel better and be more prepared to handle problems.
  • Eat healthy. Avoid too much sugar. Focus on fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and lean protein. When you’re stressed, you’ll probably want less-nutritious comfort foods, but if you overdo them, they’ll add to your problems.
  • Try to manage your time wisely.
  • Make time for hobbies and interests.
  • Get enough rest and sleep. Your body needs time to recover from stressful events. Create sleep routine, use soothing scents in bedroom (lavender or eucalyptus), make sure room is as dark as possible, cool temperature, and electronics are turned off or on silent.
  • Don’t rely on alcohol, drugs, or food to help against stress. Ease up on caffeine, too.
  • Spend time with people you love.
  • Talk with a counselor or take a stress management class for more help.
  • He is responsible for his behavior.
  • Let it go for now. I can talk about it later when we are both calm.
  • I am calm and in control.
  • I will go in another room and take some deep breaths.
  • I cannot control his behavior, but I can control my behavior.
  • I don’t have to deal with this right now; it will only make it worse.
  • He is responsible for his feelings.
  • She is upset and mad and she can deal with that on her own.
  • I can’t “make” him do anything. I can provide choices and consequences, and then it is his decision.
  • I don’t have to engage in this battle. I can take a time-out, calm down and think about how I want to communicate.
  • I don’t have to “win.”
  • The strongest influence I can have with my child is to model the behavior I want her to learn.
  • I will disengage now and go do something relaxing.
  • She can figure this out on her own. I will let her be.
  • My behavior is not helping the situation. I will stop and be quiet for a while. Later I will talk about it calmly with her.

Sources: Help and Hope