The adage of “see something, say something” is a critical strategy to fight child abuse. But in the midst of a global pandemic and social distancing, “see something, say something” alone isn’t enough to keep our children safe.
With schools and daycares closed, fewer medical appointments being kept and less interaction with grandparents and neighbors, newer and better strategies are needed to keep children from becoming the unseen victims of the virus.
With fewer eyes on children and fewer safety nets in place, what are some ways we could all join together to support families who are struggling?
Do you know a parent who is facing:
- Increased stress due to loss of employment or curtailed hours?
- Mental health issues that grow worse with isolation?
- Domestic violence risks triggered by cramped quarters?
- Loss of child care or struggles with supervising distance learning?
- Removal of support systems to help during addiction recovery?
- Separation from an older relative who can no longer help?
Think about making a human connection to break through a parent’s feelings of isolation, helplessness and frustration, whether it’s a phone call or a Facetime chat or a free Zoom video session.
An evening without the stress of cooking dinner can help keep a parent from reaching their limits. Order a meal from a restaurant that offers delivery service or curbside pick-up. Drop off groceries at the family’s doorstep.
As parents, couples can learn to recognize the signs that stress is building toward a breaking point before a child becomes the stress absorber. Intervene before a loss of control results in injury to a child or each other. Allow one another time and space to cool down before re-engaging even if this means taking turns supervising your kids. Reach out to resources like those listed on the Mental Health America of Greater Dallas website. You can also call the Statewide COVID-19 Mental Health Support Line toll-free at 833-986-1919.
If interventions don’t work, remember that reports of child abuse and neglect can be called into the Texas Abuse Hotline at 800-252-5400. Under Texas law, we’re all mandated child abuse reporters.
Don’t know a family in need? Anyone can participate right now in the Comfort Food Care Packages program supported in Dallas by the Governor’s Office, Texas Restaurants, Favor Delivery, and Dallas CASA. You can order and pay for a meal to feed a family of four to six by going online at participating restaurants. The meal will be delivered to a nearby family already identified as having an immediate need. Learn more here.
Want to do something now to help Dallas CASA be ready when the predicted surge in child abuse reports happens as social distancing comes to an end? Click here to register for one of Dallas CASA’s weekly virtual information sessions to learn about becoming a volunteer advocate. Find out how you can join your 1,500 community members who last year were strong voices and constant supports for Dallas child victims of abuse and neglect.