Are we doing enough to prevent child abuse?

Are we doing enough to prevent child abuse?

I heard this comment on a current affairs programme in NZ today, unfortunately I didn’t have time to stop and listen, however, you guessed, I do have a view. Parents, working or unemployed need to be able and willing to take the time to build trusting relationships with their children.

It seems to me that where ever there is a problem we see government departments trying to put out the fire once it’s in full blaze. I don’t see much evidence of them tracking the smoke to source and dealing with it there.

With few exceptions we all learn from experience and our environment. Some of us reflect on our behaviour and the belief systems that we have absorbed from our families and communities and make changes. Some of us just carrying on doing what was done to us or others around us, by those who were trusted with our care and safety.

As the decades pass since women became vital players in the economy and life becomes more dependant on disposable income it is obvious that there is less time available for children to have individual or family attention day after day with their mother or main caregiver. What we have is children in batches in day care, sometimes 8-10 hours a day, 5 days each week, from age 6 months!

I’m not against day care, it provides many valuable learning and social experiences for children, but I am against full time day care.

Parents and children need time to bond and get to know each other, trust builds up over a long time, predictability and routines shape the child’s life. Parents and children get to know each other over long periods of time with no interruptions, lessons can be repeated as often as needed.

Working mothers / fathers are busy at the start of the day, they need to get to work and the children need to go to care. The children are up early and rushed around to suit the schedule, no time to check their moods or worries for the day, parents may not even realise their child is coming down with a bug. Work all day, cope with stress and strain, collect the child, feed it get it off to bed, collapse in a heap, get to your own bed and do it all again the next day. Not a lot of spare energy or patience or time to get to know your child and vice versa. I often observe families together at weekends and quite frankly some of them behave like groups of strangers.

Stress, lack of time, lack of bonding, not a good mix when it comes to dealing with tiresome or difficult behaviour.

Not only working parents feel this pressure, unemployed parents suffer from stress too, they may not be able to see a way out of their situation, where should they go for help or training, they may fall into habits of substance abuse to help them deal with their lives, they may feel that their children are a burden they can’t afford, or that they hold them back. Sadly there are often family patterns of unemployment and child neglect or abuse.

Knowing yourself is the first step in knowing how to manage your children without resorting to extreme punishment or sanctions of any kind.

Agreeing and setting the limits for acceptable behaviour for yourselves and your children is crucial to managing a settled and successful family life. Children need consistency, but never forget that they will always push the boundaries, it’s having something to push against and feeling the containment that makes them feel safe. Letting them act out until you have lost your temper and then reacting badly only teaches them that you cannot manage yourself and that you can be a danger to them.

If you need help with parenting or managing your emotions, or simply putting some order in your life so that you can cope more easily, please contact your local parenting group, they will have all the information you need.

I can help you with your own stuff, to some extent from this website, but if you feel frustrated or angry with your children, if you have ever worried that you might hurt them, be big enough to get help.

If you think I might be able to help you at all, please do contact me via this website.

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