To the editor:
As Child Abuse Prevention Month draws to a close, we continue to encourage parents here in Alexandria to pause for the children in their lives. Many readers might see our Pause for a Child campaign posters being posted this weekend as part of Spring for Alexandria or hear our public service announcements airing on local radio stations. The message you’ll hear is simple: We need to take the time to break from our hectic schedules and focus on our children.
Earlier this month, Pediatrics published a study offering the strongest evidence yet that spanking makes children more aggressive. Of almost 2,500 children studied, those who were spanked more frequently at age 3 were much more likely to be considered aggressive by age 5. This study comes at a time when our own outreach here in Northern Virginia focuses on helping parents take that critical pause when a child is a source of stress, frustration or anger.
No one is a perfect parent and we all need encouragement and help sometimes. Spanking is often the result of a parent feeling helpless, stressed, tired or isolated. But parents need to know they are not alone and that there are better ways to discipline in loving, nurturing ways.
SCAN offers two weekly parent support groups here in Alexandria, one in English (Parent Connection) and one in Spanish (Juntos Por El Cambio), where caregivers have a safe place to share their parenting challenges and celebrate triumphs. Readers can get more information about these and our other parenting programs at our website www.scanva.org by clicking on “Parent Education Program.” We also publish the Parent Connection Resource Guide, which lists hundreds of parenting programs available throughout Northern Virginia.
Pausing for a child is about more than changing discipline methods or providing stress relief for parents. It’s about changing the way we prioritize our children in the chaos of our everyday lives and ultimately choosing how we all parents and community members alike want to nurture the future of our community.
Executive Director, Stop Child Abuse Now