As we tumble into fall, we are raising awareness on an issue that all should be mindful of–suicide prevention.
Suicide is a public health crisis. And for those who work with youth and young adults, it’s even more urgent. Suicide is the second leading cause of death in age groups 10-14,15-24 and 25-34, according to the Suicide Prevention Resource Center, which makes it a critical issue for parents and other adults to understand. Suicide has no boundaries and affects all genders, ages, races and ethnic groups. One in five young people face mental health challenges and approximately 80% of teens who contemplate suicide want others to know about it and to stop them.
So, how can you help? We must take a multi-tiered approach: Identify, Respond and Follow Up*
Identify the warning signs: Look for feelings of hopelessness, helplessness, guilt, self-hatred, self-harm, sudden isolation, hurting others, anxiety or depression. Has the child or teen mentioned dying or disappearing? Has he lost interest in friends or activities? Have his sleep patterns changed? However, it’s important to note that not everyone who is contemplating suicide displays the same warning signs.
Respond to the person: If you’ve identified someone displaying the warning signs, assist them in seeking help. Put them in touch with a good local hotline such as PRS (Psychiatric Rehabilitation Services 1-800-273-TALK). These organizations provide a full range of crisis services which can reduce suicides and provide treatment that focuses on underlying mental and/or substance use disorders as well.
Build in a follow-up: This is key! Having a safe support system that can continually direct them to a responsible outlet for their mental health challenges will help them tremendously on their road to developing more effective coping strategies and no longer seeing suicide as an option.
Call to Action: I urge you to not just keep these tips in mind during the month of September, which is Suicide Prevention Month, but please…be mindful of your children, neighbors, co-workers, family and friends. If any of them are showing signs that may be red flags at any time of the year, please call your local hotline today. You will make the difference in their life!
*Data taken from Suicide Prevention Resource Center
“Hands are not for hitting” is a common phrase used by parents and caregivers to help teach young children appropriate social interaction skills. We want children to have healthy relationships as they grow older, but what message do we really send to them when they are being told not to hit others, but then experience being hit themselves in the form of punishment from adults?
Next month, SCAN will host a facilitator workshop for Darkness to Light, where we’ll train adults to deliver the Stewards of Children® training program to others in our local community. Facilitators model the core principals of the curriculum by talking openly about child sexual abuse and engaging adults in discussion, and are expected to schedule and facilitate at least 4 sessions a year. As we prepare for the June 6th training, we are reminded that as adults, we must “get comfortable with our discomfort” if we want to make a difference for the children in our communities. In a recent blog post, D2L’s Executive Director & CEO Katelyn N. Brewer wrote:
“Our inability to act on this issue can be summed up in one word: stigma. Individuals are scared to report due to fear of being ostracized. Friends and family silence victims in disbelief. Corporations are reluctant to associate their brand with an unfriendly cause for fear of what it may imply. Doctors are not required to educate new parents on their child’s susceptibility. Lawmakers are shy to propose bills which erode the statute of limitations. And with little funding available for organizations working to promote change in a scaleable way, we will remain a society that is afraid to address it rather than being afraid not to address it.”
We need more adults in Northern Virginia to be afraid to NOT address the prevalance of child sexual abuse in our community. We need to end the stigma, and training more facilitators is a great next step. Are there people in your organization who are interested in learning more about becoming a facilitator? Darkness to Light has a great overview of facilitator training and requirements here. Or contact SCAN and we can answer your questions and help you register!
It’s the last day of Child Abuse Prevention Month, but the resources we unveiled in April are tools you can use all year long with the children and families you serve. Have you explored our Parenting Can Be Tough campaign page, where you can download most materials for free? Here are some of our favorite new tools and how you can use them:
It’s a new school year and we’re excited to launch a new menu of workshops for the community! We encourage ALL groups of people to consider a workshop — from nonprofits, schools and government agencies to parenting groups, employers and faith groups. Our workshops are based on SCAN’s existing child abuse prevention and advocacy programs as well as the expertise of SCAN staff. We can often customize workshops for the specific needs of a group, and most topics are available in English and Spanish, too!
So, how does your group want to be empowered this year?
We want to host a BROWN BAG SERIES for our employees:
Strategies for the Working Parent: Customize a parenting topic to compliment your human resource efforts in your office and offer support to your employees.
Don’t see a topic here you would like? SCAN can customize and deliver a 1-hour workshop for $400. In most cases we can add concurrent children’s programming for an additional fee. (Download the full SCAN Workshop Menu here.)
How can we support your organization in its work this year to build stronger families, support parents and protect children? Contact us and let’s get something on the calendar!
We’ve all been there – in line at the grocery store, at a child’s sporting event, or even in our professional work with a family – a moment when we see a parent react a little (or a lot) too harshly to their child. Our gut may tell us to do something, but we often don’t know exactly what to say or do in that moment. And just like that, our opportunity to take action for a child has vanished. We’ve become a bystander.
Every instance is different, and so is every parent. But we’ve collected some helpful suggestions and resources to be better prepared the next time you feel compelled to take action on behalf of a child:
Be prepared. There are some simple tactics – like distracting the child or starting a friendly conversation with the parent – that can come in handy when you see a family in conflict. Read the Public Displays of Aggression fact sheet (available in English and Spanish) on SCAN’s Parent Resource Center for a detailed list.
Be aware of the complexities. Charles Howard’s piece in The Huffington Post on the complexity of witnessing abuse in public, including the psychology behind the child, parent and witnesses involved, is spot on. (He also offers a great, prevention-focused tactic for the next time you’re watching a situation unfold.)
Be a part of the village.The Wakanheza Project – developed by St. Paul-Ramsey County Public Health in partnership with the community in Minnesota – is a nationally recognized approach to reducing harsh treatment of children and isolation of teens in public places. Wakanheza is the tribal word for “child,” and its direct English translation is “spiritual being.” The project was originally intended to specifically support abuse prevention, but its impact has been far-reaching on community safety, health and wellbeing.
Be sensitive, not judgmental. This blog post from Robbyn Peters Bennett of The Stop Abuse Campaign shares a personal story – and inspires the careful consideration of both child and parent when an observer feels compelled to intervene. Rather than speak out immediately when she witnessed a mom being aggressive with her son, she offered a very frustrated parent the chance to share her feelings. This reaction to public aggression is complicated and time-consuming (and not always realistic or in everyone’s comfort zone), but Bennett’s commentary on kindness and empathy is inspiring for every adult.
Have you spoken up for a child in a public place before? We’d love to hear about and learn from your experience in the comments below.
SCAN is thrilled to once again be named “one of the best small charities” in the DC region by the Catalogue for Philanthropy, and this week we guest-blogged over on their site. Read on for their popular “7 Questions” series, written by our own Public Education Manager Tracy Leonard:
7 Questions with Tracy Leonard, Public Education Manager of SCAN
SCAN (Stop Child Abuse Now) works to stop the cycle of abuse through its parent education, child advocacy and community outreach programs. Tracy works to enhance how SCAN both engages and empowers community members to take action to stop child abuse. She facilitates SCAN’s Allies in Prevention Coalition — Northern Virginia’s only comprehensive coalition focused on child abuse prevention — as well as SCAN’s partnership with Darkness to Light.
What motivated you to begin working with your organization?
SCAN and I found each other at just the right moment in time. After staying home with my two children for three years, it was time for me to go back to work. Children and children’s issues have always been a passion of mine so when I saw that SCAN was looking for a Public Education Manager, I knew it was the right fit. The position was a compliment to my background in elementary education as well as my recent Master’s Degree in Organizational Psychology. I was given the task of educating those in Northern Virginia about the scope, nature and consequences of child abuse and neglect and the importance of positive, nurturing parenting. A task that I met with open arms and an open mind.
What exciting change or innovation is on your mind?
SCAN is known for its innovation in programming. One program we are planning to launch is Operation Safe Babies – an educational program that would teach new parents about safe sleep, how to soothe a crying baby, and the effects of Shaken Baby Syndrome. In addition to the educational resources, we hope to be able to provide cribs for their new bundles of joy. We are looking forward to working with other social service agencies in Northern Virginia to help reach the families they serve.
Who inspires you (in the philanthropy world or otherwise)? Do you have a hero?
My parents are my biggest heroes and champions. They were young parents (17 and 18 years old) when they had me in 1973. Despite every obstacle they faced and every indicator that said they would not be successful parents or partners, they…[READ THE FULL BLOG POST ON CFP GOODWORKS BLOG HERE.]