Raising happy children: Local agency teaches stressed parents how to avoid child abuse

Raising happy children: Local agency teaches stressed parents how to avoid child abuse

December 2nd, 2016 by Barry Courter in Life Entertainment

Tennessee resources

* Parent/Domestic Violence helpline — 1-800-356-6767

* KidCentralTN — www.kidcentraltn.com

* Tennessee Department of Human Services — www.tn.gov or 423-634-6200

* Tennessee Department of Childrens’s Services — www.tn.gov 423-296-1234

Hamilton County resources

* Prevent Child Abuse Tennessee — www.pcat.org or 423-933-2651

* Partnership for Families, Children and Adults — www.partnershipfca.com or 423-755-2700

Georgia resources

* Georgia Department of Human Resources — www.dhs.georgia.gov or 1-800-436-7442

* Georgia Child Support Services — www.dcss.dhs.georgia.gov or 1-800-436-7442

* Prevent Child Abuse Georgia — www.abuse.publichealth.gsu.edu or 1-800-356-6767

Alabama resources

* Alabama Department of Human Resources — www.dhr.alabama.gov or 334-242-1310

* Prevent Child Abuse Alabama — www.ctf.alabama.gov/PCA%202.htm or 334-262-2951

State teen birth rankings

In 2014:

* Tennessee ranked ninth in the country with 33 births per 1,000

* Alabama was 1oth with 32 per 1,000

* Georgia was 15th with 28.4 per 1,000

— Source: Centers for

Disease Control and Prevention

Facts about child abuse

› A child is abused or neglected every 47 seconds in the U.S.

› More than 3 million children are subjects of at least one child abuse case each year.

› 1 in 10 children (1 in 7 girls and 1 in 25 boys) will be sexually abused before their 18th birthday.

› The median age for reported abuse is 9 years old.

› 90 percent of perpetrators are individuals the child knows.

› In 2013, it was estimated that more than 1,500 children died from abuse and neglect.

› 1 in 5 youth ages 10 to 17 receive sexual solicitation or are approached online.

Source: www.tncac.org/child-abuse-information/statistics

 

It's 2 a.m. and the 2-week-old baby next to you in its crib is crying and shows no signs of letting up. In fact, it seems like she's been crying since the minute you brought her home.

You're tired and so is the baby's daddy. Both of you work, and yet you wonder how you will afford food or diapers, much less gifts to put under the Christmas tree this year. Tempers are short and there is seemingly no one to turn to. Why won't the baby stop crying and go to sleep? What do you do?

"Babies don't come with a set of instructions," says Richard Tate, program manager with the Tennessee Valley office of Prevent Child Abuse Tennessee.

The organization is part of Healthy Families America and Prevent Child Abuse America, which was founded in 1972 and has chapters in all 50 states. Prevent Child Abuse Tennessee was created three decades ago to be a resource for parents — especially new and young mothers — but it serves anyone who wants help. The Georgia chapter of PCAT was founded in 1984 and Alabama's was established in 2007.

The holidays can be a happy time or they can be a source of great stress. Sometimes that stress builds enough that it explodes on the innocent, especially children. There are several agencies in our area, including PCAT, that can offer help for people when it comes to families and child care, ranging from career help to transportation, education to counseling.

PCAT is a private, independent agency and clients pay nothing for the help since it's funded through grants and private donations. Tate says the goal is to prevent child abuse by educating parents on what to expect and how to deal with things like a crying baby and where to go to get advice, help or a ride to a doctor's appointment. Teens are often a focus of PCAT because of the added stresses associated with being a young parent in addition to becoming a young adult.

Tate says the need is especially great in Tennessee, which, even though teen pregnancy rates have dropped statewide, still has one of the highest rates in the country. And, he says, several of the state's counties with the highest teen pregnancy rates are in East Tennessee.

The agency itself does in-home visits as part of its mentoring and educational programs, but it also refers people to other agencies in the area when necessary.

"We have a wide variety of referral systems," he says.

At its core, PCAT strives to help families raise children in "safe, stable and nurturing homes," says CEO Kristen Rector. It shows adults ways to deal with their own stress with the idea that they will then pass that ability on to children and the cycle continues as those children become parents. On the opposite side, children raised by abusive caregivers often believe that is the only way to raise a child unless told or shown otherwise.

All of PCAT's clients come to them voluntarily, Rector says.

"They come to us because they want to be good parents," she says. "We believe that, if we can give every child a great childhood, we can really change the face of a whole community. Children raised in a safe, stable home are better prepared to deal with stress, hold down a job."

How long PCAT works with a client depends on the family's needs.

"You might have a 5-year-old that is having anxieties about starting kindergarten and that might take eight weeks," Rector says. "Or we might work with a family with a newborn that wants more long-term help that could last up to five years."

Rector says they can also work with different members of a household.

"We have a multi-generational approach. We might work with a parent, but if Grandma or Grandpa are also involved in caregiving, we work with them."

Sometimes that means helping family members unlearn bad habits perhaps picked up from their own parents or caregivers on dealing with stress.

"I think the biggest thing is getting people to understand that just one caring adult can really make a difference," Rector says.

Tate says PCAT clients come from a variety of lives, including such unexpected places as school counselors, churches and other family-oriented agencies.

"We don't get court-ordered cases. Everyone who comes to us wants help."

Contact Barry Courter at bcourter@timesfreepress.com or 423-757-6354.


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