Child Abuse and the Recession
Sleepless nights. Anxiety. Depression. Stress. Poor diet. It seems as if everyone is being affected by the current state of the economy in some shape or form, but if you’re a parent, there is another more unthinkable manifestation of the souring economy: child abuse.
Recent evidence seems to indicate that child abuse is on the rise, even though the national trend showed a decline from 2007 to 2008. Regional hospitals across the country, from Boston to Seattle, are reporting a disturbing rise in the number of children being admitted who display injuries consistent with abuse.
These include physically induced trauma to the head and limbs, to shaken baby syndrome. Though the abuse involves mostly physical injuries, doctors are also seeing a rise in non-physical cases of neglect whereby the parent either failed to attend to their kids needs because they couldn’t afford it or because they had to work.
What’s troubling about the data is that with the economy still in flux, we could be seeing just the beginning. While numbers for the current year are not yet available, a recent national poll found that a majority of legal and law enforcement officials across the country anticipate that the trend will rise based on previous recessions, and many doctors seem to agree.
To rub salt in the proverbial wound, with the economy on the decline, the very organizations that have been established to prevent and address child abuse are being severely compromised by budget shortfalls, further aggravating the situation.
This, of course, highlights the need for parents to be particularly more vigilant to keep tabs on their emotional outbursts, because as every parent knows, they will happen; we’ve all been there. Irrespective of how much we love our children, they simply challenge us in ways we never imagined. When things get particularly difficult, it can add up to a perfect storm of emotions that might cause us to act out our frustrations.
So here are a few things to keep in mind to help deal with the difficult times and avoid a moment of anger that might possibly lead to something worse.
1. Talk about your frustrations. Sometimes just the act of being heard can go a long way to easing the tension, so find an acquaintance or professional who can sit and listen.
2. Let others help you. Even though I know certain parents can pull it off, it’s hard to fathom one parent doing it alone, so let others help. When you become a parent, a lot of people come out of the woodworks who want to help out, so if you know and trust them, take advantage of their offers.
3. Walk away. When things get particularly difficult and you begin to feel your blood boiling, just take a brief moment and walk away. Step outside or go into another room and take a breather. The physical separation will do you a world of good.
4. Get enough sleep. One of the biggest challenges of parenthood is functioning while exhausted, and as everyone knows, lack of sleep can make our lives miserable. So get enough of it, and sneak in a nap when you can.
5. Make time for yourself. Exercise, read, talk on the phone, whatever it takes. When you feel you’ve attended to some of your needs, the level of compromise and sacrifice that parenthood requires can seem a little less painful.
6. Get organized and plan ahead. At least for me, nothing is more frustrating that the time and energy I lose because I can’t be more organized, and efficiency can often lead to peace of mind.
7. Turn on some music and shake your booty. It doesn’t really matter what you listen to, as long you and the kids like it and want to move to its rhythms.
8. Move things outside. Besides the invigorating feeling of being in the fresh air, kids can often entertain themselves once they’re in the great outdoors.
9. Create a support network. Nobody can relate to your pain and suffering more than other parents, and nobody would love to talk about it more. So take advantage of your mutual experiences.
10. Watch a video. While I’m not an advocate of TV, when things get really bad, the tube has an amazing way of sucking young minds into its enticing grasp, buying you some much needed time.
Finally, keep in mind that things are never as bad as they seem. We’ve weathered storms before and we’ll get through this one. Whatever you do, don’t take your frustrations out on your family, and if need be, seek out professional help.
The impetus lies on us to know the right things to do. The difficult times will happen, no question about, and how we respond could be the difference between acting appropriately or doing something we’ll regret for the rest of our lives. The importance of this cannot be overstated.
So do the right thing. And as always, we’d love to hear your stories or suggestions of regarding this subject.