ELOY — Child Abuse Prevention Awareness Month was observed in April by the two organizations that are heavily involved in child abuse cases, the Pinal County Attorney’s Office Family Advocacy Center, based in Eloy, and Against Abuse Inc., based in Casa Grande.
Recently, principals from each agency met to discuss methods to make the public more aware of child abuse prevention, what it is and ways to prevent it from happening.
Jerry Smith, Family Advocacy Center director, and Jo Anne Pinto, Against Abuse children’s counselor, met at the center last month and held their discussion in the children’s play room, which provides a kind of fairy-tale atmosphere that helps to reduce the stress of victims of child abuse and sexual assault.
Pinto said, “We celebrate Child Abuse Prevention Awareness every year in April. Our color is blue, you’ll see people wearing the lapel pins, and some of the churches and schools and City Hall in Casa Grande have planted blue pinwheels to call attention to child abuse prevention. These displays are important, because people have a tendency to forget that there is such a thing as child abuse.”
Children should be given a little more control, she said, letting them make choices like asking them to choose between two different outfits to wear at school or a choice between two breakfasts, to avoid fighting with them all the time.
Smith said, “It’s a matter of educating parents or caregivers on how to deal with children. How to establish a better understanding through communication, because that’s where the breakdown begins. A lot of parents think that the kids already understand these situations, but if you haven’t taken the time to explain that these are the things you don’t do, they never will understand what the parameters are. Give them a better way, if you will, of doing things.”
Too many people think that parenthood is automatic, Pinto said.
Smith said, “The teachers also can give the parents some contacts, resources that the parents can use if they have issues with their children. They can contact Against Abuse or any number of social agencies that are able to send someone out that can sit down with the family and talk about how to prevent certain things from happening.
“The biggest excuse for parents is ‘I didn’t have the time.’ To me, that’s a cop-out. You didn’t have time, because you didn’t take time, and that’s the key element. Trust me, kids appreciate it when you take time, even if it’s only five minutes.”
Pinto added, “I think our socialization process needs to be changed. The way we were socialized and the way our kids were socialized, a lot of priorities were set, but they didn’t include enough personal time. It’s always got to be something involving work or about personal activities. We don’t ever leave time for interpersonal kinds of things that have to do with personal relationships and social behavior. It’s an absolute waste not to take the time to work on our relationships with our family, especially with our children.”