PROTECTING CHILDREN IS THE JOB OF EVERY AUSTRALIAN

Reporting suspected child abuse for many reasons might feel hard to do, but remaining silent  is so much worse.

child abuse

Silence is not golden when it comes to our children, especially the most vulnerable.

We as parents, grandparents and as adults need to be open to the signs of abuse and follow our natural instincts.

“In a most cases children don’t make direct disclosures, so we have to look for signs, and if we see any, for the child’s sake err on the side of caution and speak up.” Says Mark Aldridge

Child safety MUST remain the priority at all times.

“They might say, ‘This happened to a friend’ as a way to test the reaction of the person they want to tell. They want to assess whether they will be believed and whether the adult will stand up for them.

“Trust your gut. If you feel that something is not right, seek out support. It is difficult; people are often reluctant to contact the authorities due to a misguided fear of breaking up a family unit.

“If you have even a suspicion that something is wrong, it’s better to call than not call the authorities and voice your concerns, if not open up to friends and family for support to act.

“You don’t know who else might have already made a report” –a teacher, a doctor, a neighbour might have also spoken up. All those accounts help child protection specialists understand the full picture. You are adding your piece of the puzzle to that picture.”

“As a society we have moved away from the idea that the family unit is somehow a sacrosanct, closed space which we’re not allowed to enter. If we believe a child is at risk, we must act.”

Children are often scared to speak up, despite improved awareness about child abuse, so we must be their voice.

“For children, there is improved education in schools now about approaching a trusted adult, a teacher or a school counsellor,” so if they approach you, then you must act in a timely and compassionate manner.

“When there is abuse in the home it can be very hard for a child to go forward to anyone because they are worried about breaking up the family or being punished. Often the child feels as if they are to blame.”

Professionals such as teachers, health care workers and police have a legal obligation to report suspected abuse. I believe this should be applied to every adult in this country and all over the world.

Until we have a legal obligation, let our moral one lead the way, and let’s wipe out child abuse and continue on to demand heavier penalties to deter any future abhorrent behavior.

Mark Aldridge “Community Advocate” Public officer of S.C.A.A.T. (Stop Child Abuse Australia Team)

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