Friday, April 24, 2015

Prevention Begins with Awareness

Pinwheels for Prevention - Watch for them!
As a child I grew up in a relatively sheltered environment. I had parents who cared for me and provided for my needs. In fact they provided for our family so well I didn't even know to question if parents were supposed to do that or not. Mine just did. I remember relatively carefree days of playing with the neighbor kids. How we loved to run around, imagining and playing all sorts of things: flying like Peter Pan, being a mom or dad, building cities in the sand and so much more! The worst part of the day, by far, was when my mom said it we couldn't play anymore.

It wasn't until my early high school years that some of my naivety was stripped away. The cause? There was a divorce in a family nearby due to the abuse going on in the home. I remember being shocked that anyone would hurt the tender woman I knew as the mother or her children. Yet, here it was in front of me.

Help Me Grow Staff at the Child
Abuse Prevention Month Kick-off
Although I didn't fully understand the impact of this situation at the time, my experiences have led me down a path to where I have now witnessed firsthand the affects of child abuse on a person. Not
just in that moment, but for the rest of their lives. From my initial awareness of abuse in high school to my increasing understanding today, I can say I have gained a passion to protect children and help heal adults who weren't protected. I gained this passion because I learned about and witnessed the effects of the abuse on the lives of people whom I came to love.

Fortunately, there is a movement across the nation to help fuel this passion. April is nationally recognized as Child Abuse Prevention Month. Why? Because prevention is so much more important to you, me and our communities than intervention. Because the lives of other people matter.

So, I encourage all of you to step outside of your current comfort zones, as I am trying to do. Recognize the signs that are around you of possible abuse. If needed, learn what those signs are. Then be a voice for children. You won't be alone in your cause. There are many who want to help along the way. Here are a few examples:

The Utah Association of Family Support Centers
The Division of Child and Family Services
Utah Domestic Violence Coalition

Help Me Grow can also connect you to many other resources specific to your questions or the area where you live to help you gain a better understanding. As you seek to learn about this cause, you too can gain a passion. With this awareness will come a desire to prevent. From there you can change generations!

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