July 1, 2021
I once had a teacher who answered every question with the same flippant and irritated tone. By the second week of class we knew not to ask questions – our job was to sit and listen. That’s how you got by in Dr. B’s class. That was the established norm. This lesson impacted me all through school. I learned to test the waters before I spoke.
Fast forward way too many years later and I am part of the Commonwealth of Virginia’s multidisciplinary steering committee, supporting the creation of Virginia’s Plan to Prevent Child Abuse and Neglect. I am co-chairing one of the plan’s five goal areas – social norms – and seeing all the ways norms negatively impact the safety of our children and families.
Norms shape us – how we think, how we act and react, and what we perceive as good and bad. We know they impact children significantly. Children react to their environment. They learn how to keep the peace; protect themselves; what they can say and what they can’t; and when people will listen or won’t.
That’s where SCAN comes in. One of our most important jobs is to shift social norms around children’s rights and help families in need. Everything we do is centered around creating environments where families in crisis are able to speak up, and all children are safe and empowered – where they know they have fundamental rights and a voice they can use when those rights are infringed upon.
That’s my vision for our community, our state, and our country.
I will continue to keep you updated on the work SCAN’s doing at the state level, and encourage you to think about the social norms we contribute to, change, and create every day; the norms where our children and grandchildren learn and play; and the norms facing families who need help, but have learned it’s not that easy to ask for.
And as always, if you are a part of a group interested in learning more about child protection or having a conversation about child abuse prevention – invite us – we are happy to be a resource for you and are always eager to help.