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Thursday, July 18, 2024

Community Plays Key Role In Supporting Families and Recognizing Potential Child Abuse

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April is National Child Abuse Prevention Month. Each day, four children across the country die as a result of abuse and neglect. In Indiana, 36 children died in 2007 as a result of abuse and neglect. The Marion County Health Department, through its Social Services program, continues to work to bring awareness to this issue.

Unemployment, family stresses, first time parents, single parents and other factors can create challenges for children and families. National Child Abuse Prevention Month is a time for the community to come together and encourage one another to support our children and families. There are steps we all can take to lower the risk for child abuse and neglect.

Report suspected abuse or neglect. If you have reason to believe a child has been or may be harmed, call your local department of child and family services or your local police department.

Help a friend, neighbor or relative. Offer to care for children so parents can get needed rest and time away from their children.

Promote programs in school. Teaching children, parents and teachers prevention strategies can help keep children safe.

Volunteer at a local child abuse prevention program. For information about volunteer opportunities, call 1-800-CHILDREN.

Prevent Child Abuse Indiana and the Marion County Health Department support these five protective factors promoting healthy families:

Parents/caregivers who bond with and respond to the basic needs of their babies and young children create a positive and loving foundation for a lifelong relationship.

Helping young or first time parents learn about the normal developmental stages will help them understand what to anticipate as their children grow and develop.

Parents who can handle stress will be best equipped to handle the day-to-day challenges of parenting.

Parents need the support of family, friends and neighbors. Children also benefit from these relationships.

Parents also need help with providing food, clothing and shelter in rough times.

Health Department Encouraging Families to Eat More Meals Together

With work demands, school and other commitments, getting family members to sit down and eat a meal together can be a challenge. However, research has shown that sharing meals can be healthy for all members of the family.

The Marion County Health Department Nutrition Services program, along with the Indiana Dairy Council, Purdue Cooperative Extension of Marion County and Community Centers of Indianapolis have unveiled a new initiative promoting family mealtime.

“Cook together, eat together, talk together – make mealtime family time” looks at the many positive aspects of shared mealtime.

“We know that children who eat with their families do better in school; children who eat with their families eat better, learn better eating habits and are less likely to develop eating disorders. Eating family meals can also help children reach a healthy weight,” said Denise Ferguson, district nutritionist for the Marion County Health Department. “Family meals create a time when the family can engage in conversation about daily activities, concerns and shared issues of the day,” said Ferguson.

Along with this unveiling and new initiative, the health department is also continuing to provide information on eating well on a budget.

For more information about the Marion County Health Department’s Nutrition Services program, please call (317) 221-7401.

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