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Guest Editorial: The healthier our children, the better our society

Violence is an urgent public health problem in our communities. Far too many Americans, both young and old, have witnessed or experienced violence in their homes, schools or neighborhoods.

April is recognized as Child Abuse Awareness and Prevention Month, and is a time to reflect how children experience violence and how we can protect the children who will become our future. Child development is a foundation for community and economic development, and the healthier the children of our country, the better our society will be.

The brain develops before birth and continues through adulthood. The environment a child experiences through interactions with others and the world around creates the foundation from which that child lives the rest of his or her life. Toxic stress – such as abuse of any kind, neglect or isolation – lethally affects all of us, but even more dramatically the younger we are.

The ability to change the brain diminishes over time, and therefore, providing the healthiest opportunities as a child matures not only enhances the life of the child, but our communities, as well.

During Child Abuse Prevention Month, consider how you can be a part of the solution of ending child abuse. Consider:

-Reaching out to a parent who needs extra support during a trying time.

-Asking support for yourself if you need a break from parenting.

-Volunteering in a program that enhances the lives of children or works with abusive issues, i.e. Someplace Safe, mentoring programs, scouting, youth groups, etc.

-Nurturing children you may come in contact with and affirming they are special.

-Reporting suspected abuse or neglect.

Working together to bring positive change in situations where abuse is already happening, and taking action to prevent abuse from happening in the first place, transforms the lives of children, adults, families, our communities and the whole world!

Excerpts taken from

Emilyn Haugen

Director, Someplace Safe Parenting Time Center

Perham, MN