YOUR VIEWS | Pause For a Child

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To the editor,

As National Child Abuse Prevention Month comes to an end, we here at Stop Child Abuse Now are reaching out to people with a new message: Pause for a child.

There are times when we all need to be reminded to take a break from the rush and stress that surround us in our lives. We might need a coffee break or a vacation. But the pause were talking about is different. Its about stopping for a moment and directing your focus toward the children in your life. Those in your own family. The children in your neighborhood. Even strangers on the street.

As parents, a pause can help us control our emotions and be positive in our discipline. As community members, a pause can help us be role models, be engaged with our community and be advocates for all children.

But one thing we hear repeatedly is that when people even mandated reporters such as teachers and medical professionals do take that pause, and then witness something in a child that is unsettling or concerning, they arent taking a stand and they are often not reporting the incident to local authorities. Were asking everyone to pause, take action AND be persistent.

When a call is made to Child Protective Services (and calls CAN be made anonymously), it usually does not result in a child being removed from his or her home. In fact, the majority of reports do not even go directly to investigation status. They enter a family assessment track where local agencies work to connect both parents and children with the resources, support and advocacy they need to build a healthier, stronger family.

By pausing, and then taking action, one person can launch a critical pause for a family that can forever change a childs life. It can be a time for those parents to find the help they need to nurture their children and stay together.

Taking a pause is not always an easy thing to do, but it is always the right thing to do. Weve developed a variety of resources to help parents, families and community members learn how to pause for the children in their lives, and theyre all available online at our new site, www.pauseforachild.org.

To report child abuse or neglect in Alexandria, call 703-838-0800 or the 24-Hour Virginia Helpline/Hotline at 1-800-552-7096. If a child is in immediate danger, call 911.

Diane Charles
Executive Director
SCAN of Northern Virginia

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