What if we could reduce child abuse and neglect by 100%? What if every child could wake up nurtured and safe? What if the solutions were in our hands?
The goal of 0% child abuse is reachable, and these four solutions are doable now:
"Adverse childhood experiences (ACEs) can have profound effects on the lifelong health of adults," says the North Dakota Department of Health. ACEs include socioeconomic hardship, living with a person who has a drug or alcohol problem, witnessing domestic violence, and other challenges.
A recent National Survey of Children’s Health provides data on nine ACEs among U.S. children. According to the survey, nearly half of North Dakota children age 0 through 17 have experienced one or more ACEs. This translates into an estimated 65,000 children in North Dakota. In addition, 1 of every 5 North Dakota children has experienced two or more ACEs. More information is available through the Data Resource Center for Child & Adolescent Health.
"Today I live." – Lenny
"She was always with me during those times." – Lynn
"The only way from here to here is through it." – Troy
"Figuring out how to help others survive is part of being a survivor." – Rhonda
"I can’t stress it enough. Please do not give up." – Michaela
This short film, featuring the hope-filled voices of survivors of childhood abuse, is ideal for classroom, workshop, therapeutic, and personal viewing. Vetted by diverse audiences across North Dakota, it is available now for free download. The directors welcome you to show the film free of charge in any setting that will help prevent child abuse and neglect. Many thanks to Karen Van Fossan (film director), Ronya Hoblit (assistant director), and all who made the film possible.
Read the illustrated book, "Authentic Voices: How We Survive," written by North Dakota authors, now.
When it comes to raising children, it seems everyone has an opinion. How do parents and caregivers find our way through all the advice?
Here are some of our favorite tips:
"I need a vacation from my life!" Sound familiar?
If your family is like most, you’re no stranger to stress. About 3 in 4 parents say family responsibilities are a significant stressor. Kids feel it, too. Only 3 in 20 teens say they are not bothered by parental stress. What to do? Practice "HEARTS."
Heat – reduce it: If tension is high, let it go until later.
Exchange: Listen without interrupting; practice respect; be sure to talk when things are OK, too.
Acknowledge: We can address stressors we know we have.
Reflect: Ask what stress responses, healthy or otherwise, we’re teaching our kids.
Tend to ourselves: Take "mini-vacations" (deep breathing, a short walk), so we have more left for others.
Seek support: Find parenting resources at pcand.org, by calling 211, or through Parent Resource Centers.
No doubt we love our kids, and they "heart" us. Sometimes, that loving bond itself reduces stress.
Written by Karen Van Fossan, MA, LAPC. Ronya Hoblit, BSW, contributed to this article. Thanks to the APA Help Center for information.
Probably nobody is 100% self-disciplined. But how do we help kids be as disciplined as they can be? Unfortunately, physical punishment can damage development. Instead, to teach self-discipline, we need practice and "PRACTICES" –
Practice what we preach; set an example for our kids.
Reward and encourage positive behavior.
Acknowledge our child’s emotions – and ours.
Consider common causes of misbehavior – hurt, fear, anger, loneliness, hunger, tiredness.
Talk about the misbehavior – privately, without shaming; remind kids of expectations.
Institute limits, like bedtime, and help kids understand them.
Call time-outs if needed; help kids get calm and praise them for calming down.
Express our unconditional love whenever possible.
Seek parenting support; visit pcand.org, call 211, contact Parent Resource Centers, or get professional help.
Practice won’t make any of us perfect. (How boring perfection would be!) But PRACTICES help families develop habits of care – for each other and our not-so-perfect selves.
Written by Karen Van Fossan, MA, LAPC. Thanks to Channing Bete and University of MN Extension for research on positive discipline.
"These are the best days of your life!" Really? Being a kid or teen can be tough. Some say, so can parenting.
Much depends on our communication styles. Style 1 tends to be passive, ignoring our own feelings and needs. Style 2 tends to be aggressive, blaming with "You" statements. ("You’re lazy!") Style 3 combines these into passive-aggression, stuffing feelings that come out "sideways" in sarcasm and withholding attention. With style 4, assertiveness, we share feelings, needs, and expectations, also supporting others to assert theirs.
"Can I do it?" – "I CAN."
"I" statements: Speak from our own experience. ("I feel angry," rather than "You tick me off.")
Conflict: Recognize that conflict is natural, not a sign we’re bad people, kids, or parents.
Attention: Stop, listen, and pay attention when others speak.
Needs: Acknowledge our needs (for order, respect, etc.) to help us acknowledge others’.
With effective communication, these days together can be some of the best.
Written by Karen Van Fossan, MA, LAPC. For more information on effective communication, call 211 or contact Parent Resource Centers.
"He Started It!"
We don’t need to know who started it ("Did not!") to reduce – or stop – sibling rivalry. As kids, many of us heard about "thinking caps." Let’s use these CAPS:
Causes: Children compete for predictable reasons – feeling unmet needs, establishing a separate identity from siblings, or imitating family/community approaches to conflict.
Action: We must intervene if kids use hurtful words or violence; we can separate them, then support them in finding solutions to disagreements. We can also set ground rules for handling disagreements.
Prevention: Teach kids to express feelings; show positive ways to get siblings’ attention; plan 1-on-1 and group activities. Don’t play favorites; don’t compare kids; don’t label (the brain, the athlete, etc.).
Support: If there’s sibling abuse, professional support is crucial. Sibling abuse has serious consequences, and there’s no shame in getting help to support our kids.
With effort, when we ask, "Who started cooperating?" – we may even hear, "We did!"
Written by Karen Van Fossan, MA, LAPC. For more information on addressing family conflict, call 211 or contact Parent Resource Centers. Many thanks to University of Michigan Health System and Positive Promotions, Inc., for research.
As stressful as times of disagreement or divorce can be for adults, they can be even more so for children and teens. These basic Do's and Don'ts can help make difficult times as manageable as possible.
Adapted from "Keeping Your Children Out of the Crossfire," published by the North Dakota Alliance for Children's Justice. For more information on keeping kids out of the middle, call 211 or contact Parent Resource Centers.
Regular developmental screenings help young children learn, grow, and strengthen skills that build upon one another. They also help you learn what to expect at every age.
In a developmental screening, children get a quick and simple check of developmental milestones:
It’s best to start screening early – from birth through age five. You can get specialized help if your children need extra support. As children reach various milestones, you can also celebrate together.
Adapted from "Screen Early," developed by Child Care Aware and PCAND. For more information on developmental screening, visit ndkids.org.
With the support they need, nearly all parents can help their children to learn, grow, and thrive. Here are the key factors that contribute to child abuse and neglect:
With community support, almost all parents can become the parents they hope to be. In turn, children can blossom into the people they’re born to be.
To report suspected child abuse/neglect, contact county social services. If a child seems to be in immediate danger, call 911 or local police.
If you're concerned that a child is being neglected or abused, it is critical that you make a report to the police or social services. Children who are experiencing abuse or neglect need support from trained adults. You can make an anonymous report through the North Dakota Child Protection Program website.
Parents and caregivers – we hope you find what you’re looking for here. Whether it’s tips on sleeping, feeding, developmental milestones, or many other topics, we have information for you! Visit again soon, as we update these tips often.