White River Valley Family and Consumer Science students are spreading awareness. April is nationally recognized as Child Abuse and Neglect Prevention Awareness month and students enrolled in Advanced Child Development spent the first two weeks of the month learning about the types and focusing on how they can promote prevention.
According to National Children’s Alliance, nearly 700,000 children are abused in the U.S annually. The youngest children were most vulnerable to maltreatment. Children in the first year of their life had the highest rate of victimization of 24.2 per 1,000 children. About four out of five abusers are the victims’ parents. A parent of the child victim was the perpetrator in 78.1 percent of substantiated cases of child maltreatment.
These are scary statistics and, as a FACS teacher educating our future parents, I have made it my mission to bring these numbers to the attention of high school students and help them to recognize their role in stopping this societal problem.
The first week begins by stating some discussion guidelines. For example, students are not to discuss local cases past or present, students should not share classmates stories outside of the classroom and we all need to respect each others ideas. Next we define abuse, an intentional act, and neglect, a failure to act. Students then describe the various forms of each.
Abuse can be physical, sexual and/or emotional/verbal. Neglect can be physical, educational, medical, moral and/or emotional. Adults abuse and neglect children for a variety of reasons and anyone is susceptible. Abuse and neglect have long-lasting effects.
During the second week the focus is on how each student can help prevent abuse and neglect. Students create two pinwheels and fill them with information they feel is important for the WRV student body to know. Kylee Turpin’s pinwheel depicted the cycle of abuse: The abuse occurs, the perpetrator feels guilty, apologizes and things return to normal, then a build-up occurs and the abuse occurs, the cycle repeats.
Samantha Corey stated signs of abuse on her pinwheel: Physical - withdrawn, aggressive, anxious, suicidal, sexual - timid, sexualized, infections, verbal/emotional - low self-esteem, self-conscious. Kaitlen Mowery warned parents to be aware of who you let around your child, protect your child and make sure they know what to do in the event they experience abuse or neglect. Each pinwheel has information to inform other WRV students on the scope of the problem.
On Tuesday, April 30, Advanced Child Development pinwheels reached over 100 students. WRV students then answered a question from the pinwheel to get a popsicle.
Together, we can confront this issue and stop child abuse and neglect. If you suspect child abuse or neglect call Child Help USA at 1.800.4 A Child (1.800.422.4453) or Indiana’s number Toll-Free: (800) 800-5556 www.in.gov/dcs/2398.htm
Betsy Misner has been the Family and Consumer Science, formerly Home Economics, teacher at White River Valley for over a decade. Her motivation is helping students to strive for strong, happy, healthy families and providing career pathways. Check out more of what is happening in the classroom by following her on Twitter: WRVFACS@BetsyMisner