April is National Child Abuse Prevention Awareness Month. This is even more important now during the COVID-19 pandemic, when traditional support systems for families are unavailable or altered. High-stress home environments can increase the likelihood of domestic violence and abuse that children either experience or observe. As children continue to spend more time at home, they may experience abuse.
For many kids, home is not a safe place, and those enduring abuse or neglect are possibly going unnoticed as schools are closed and we are all isolating from one another. According to childwelfare.gov, across the states, child abuse and neglect reports were down 50%. Part of that is due to the fact that the crucial part of reporting, the eyes and ears that usually recognize problems, are not with the children that are at risk.
We are asking everyone to play a part in keeping children healthy and safe. Please call and reach out to families you know to check in. Report suspected abuse, share crisis hotlines with families, and keep your eyes open. To report suspected abuse or neglect of a child or adult, call 1-855-503-SAFE (7233).
The Malheur County Health Department (MCHD) provides compassionate, high quality care for all people in Malheur County, including LGBTQIA+ individuals. We are proud to offer many services for the health and well-being of our community, including:
Rapid HIV testing, referral, and case coordination
Sexually Transmitted Infections testing and treatment
Communicable disease testing and case coordination, including tuberculosis and hepatitis
Wide range of birth control options
Immunizations, including HPV for all genders ages 9-26
Home Visiting programs for parents with children age 5 and under
Pregnancy testing and counseling
Tobacco prevention and education
Birth and death certificates, available within 6 months of event
WIC nutrition program for qualifying families with children age 5 and under
We are a community of all sexual orientations and
gender identities and have a variety of health needs. MCHD serves all people
regardless of ability to pay, with a few low-cost exceptions. No one will be
denied services based on immigration status, sex, gender identity, sexual
orientation, race, nationality, or religious affiliation. MCHD also accepts
Medicare, Medicaid, and most private health insurance. If you do not have
insurance, we have staff who can help you sign up for the Oregon Health Plan or
determine your eligibility for other assistance programs.
All services are confidential and open to all ages. Call 541-889-7279 to make an appointment. Walk ins welcome. Se habla Español.
Some LGBT youth are more likely than their heterosexual peers to experience negative health and life outcomes. It is important that at-risk LGBT youth have access to resources and support to deal with the questions and challenges they may face as they mature.
It Gets Better Project The It Gets Better Project reminds teenagers in the LGBT community that they are not alone and it will get better.
Q Card Project The Q Card is a simple and easy-to-use communication tool designed to empower LGBTQ youth to become actively engaged in their health, and to support the people who provide their care.
StopBullying.gov: Information for LGBT Youth Lesbian, gay, bisexual, or transgender (LGBT) youth and those perceived as LGBT are at an increased risk of being bullied. There are important and unique considerations for strategies to prevent and address bullying of LGBT youth.
Because some LGBT youth are more likely than their heterosexual peers to experience bullying or other aggression in school, it is important that educators, counselors, and school administrators have access to resources and support to create a safe, healthy learning environment for all students.
The Trevor Project: Education and Resources for Adults The Trevor Project’s “Trainings for Professionals” include in-person Ally and CARE trainings designed for adults who work with youth. These trainings help counselors, educators, administrators, school nurses, and social workers discuss LGBTQ-competent suicide prevention.
Resources for Parents, Guardians, and Family Members
Some LGBT youth are more likely than their heterosexual peers to experience negative health and life outcomes, so it is critical for the parents, guardians, and other family members of LGBT youth to have access to the resources they need to ensure their LGBT children are protected and supported.
Electronic Aggression Increased access to technology has benefits, but it also increases the risk of abuse. Learn more.
The Family Acceptance Project The Family Acceptance Project is a research, intervention, education, and policy initiative that works to prevent health and mental health risks for LGBT children and youth.
Helping Families to Support Their LGBT Children This resource guide was developed to help practitioners who work in a wide range of settings to understand the critical role of family acceptance and rejection in contributing to the health and well-being of adolescents who identify as LGBT.
StopBullying.gov: Information for Parents Parents play a key role in preventing and responding to bullying. If you know or suspect that your child is involved in bullying, here are several resources that may help.
For the most part, sibling conflict is normal and to be expected: Home is a safe testing ground for social dynamics. Siblings often want to play together, but it takes skill and patience when they’re different ages.
Be a Sportscaster
It’s our job to let kids know we see and hear them, but we’re not necessarily going to solve siblings’ conflicts for them (or else they never get the practice). When squabbles start, imagine you’re a sportscaster and describe what you see in front of you, without judgment and without taking sides. This simple practice lets your kids know you acknowledge and respect their struggles, but you’re not immediately jumping in with a solution.
Example: You hear shouting and walk in to find your kids looking upset with each other.
Instead of:Hey settle down in here! Jack, what did you do this time?
Say:I’m hearing really loud voices in here. Alex, you’re looking mad with your hands on your hips. Jack, you’re laughing. There’s a pack of Pokémon cards on the floor.
Narrate what’s happening. Repeat back what your kids say to you. Try to be neutral.
Ah, got it. You’re telling me he always takes the best cards. You feel like he’s the boss all the time. I see. Jack, you wanted to play the game you usually play and Alex wanted to change it up. Alex, you got frustrated and threw the cards. Am I missing anything?
When you repeat back their grievances, it helps kids start to hear each other and work on their own solutions.
Let Siblings Be Mad at Each Other
It’s a knee-jerk reaction for many parents to insist siblings be nice to each other, and try to smooth over tricky or unpleasant feelings. But siblings can feel love, anger, frustration and connection to each other all within the same day. If they get the message that we accept only their sunny feelings, they will either put more oomph into the darker ones so we hear them, or repress and hide them from us. Neither of these is a good outcome. Accept the negative feelings without judgment. The warm, loving ones will naturally resurface.
Example:He always ruins everything! I hate him!
Instead of:Hey, watch it. You need to calm down and apologize to your brother.
Say:Wow, you are super angry at him. What was it that made you this mad?
Example: I don’t want this new baby. I wish she were never born.
Instead of:Oh, you don’t mean that. You’re going to love her, you’ll see.
Say: I get it. Things feel so different now. It used to be just the three of us and it seems like everything changed. I feel it too sometimes!
Know When to Intervene
If you feel as if your kids’ relationship is bordering on emotional or physical abuse, it’s important to intervene quickly and be ready to separate them if necessary. But for the brothers and sisters who are merely annoyed, pause and listen. When voices start to rise and conflict is escalating, those are signs you may need to step in. Start with something like,
Do you guys need help figuring this out?
Can you give me some information about what’s happening here?
Kids are capable problem solvers, even the youngest ones. Assume they have good ideas and you’re there for support.
Use the Iceberg Analogy
Kids’ words and behaviors are only the tip of the iceberg. They’re the easiest to see and the part we fixate on. Usually, there’s something more telling under the surface. One sibling pushes the other not just to be mean, but because he’s angry, he’s testing boundaries, he’s been pushed at school, he’s tired, he’s overstimulated, he’s trying to get attention. As we teach and uphold family rules, it’s also our job as parents to look deeper.
Approaching the situation with curiosity will help you get to the root of the issue, and it also brings the family closer and makes the lessons stick.
The above are a few of the tools my co-author, Julie Wright, and I teach clients to help them tune in and understand what kids are feeling. But you need more for true conflict resolution. We call this strategy the A-L-P model, for the steps of attuning, limit setting and problem solving. Attuning means you lead with understanding, limit setting states the rules and realities, and problem solving is for coming up with alternatives and solutions:
Ouch, that looked like it hurt. Let me check and make sure you’re O.K. You were really mad and you slammed the door on his arm? Tell me what was going on. O.K., got it.You were angry and you wanted space from him. (Attune to both kids).
We absolutely cannot slam doors, because it’s dangerous. Remember that’s a family rule. (Limit Set).
Let’s get your brother some ice. Pause. What could you say, in clear, strong words, when you need space? Let’s write those down, because it’s really hard to remember when you’re mad. (Problem Solve).
This system helped a mom in our practice to feel empathy for her “problem child” — her middle son, who seemed to find every opportunity to provoke and aggravate his little sister. He was downright mean to her in a way that made the mom furious. She sometimes felt as if she didn’t like him.
We had her sketch an iceberg and fill in the possible sources of her son’s behaviors. As she did this exercise, she started to cry. She had written notes like, “Resentment toward little sister for being the baby of the family, attention from adults always on her, jealousy for her easygoing nature, overwhelmed at school, anger at recent family changes.” She worked on seeing him through this lens of curiosity and it made her less reactive and able to acknowledge his struggles.
Eventually, he started opening up and telling her more about how he was feeling. When she reminded him of family rules, rather than sending him to his room, she asked him what he could do instead of provoking his sister, and he actually started coming up with his own ideas.
As time went on, she still heard them fighting, but she also heard them working things out, chatting and laughing. The ratio of enjoyment to conflict was going up. Her empathy for her son was spreading through the family.
To make an appointment for Babies First! in Malheur County or for more information, call 541-889-7279.
What is Babies First! and how much does it cost?
Would you like support during pregnancy or with your baby?
Babies First! is a program that provides nurse visits for pregnant women and families with babies and young children up to age 5. Babies First! helps make sure moms, families and babies have the support and information they need to be healthy.
Babies First! is free to eligible women, families, and children.
What can Babies First! help with?
Answer questions about how to keep you or your baby healthy, and help know when to see the doctor
Sign up for health care and/or the Oregon Health Plan
Solve problems, or connect you to services you might need
Give information about what to expect as your child grows and develops
Check to make sure your child is learning and growing as they should
Help you keep your child’s teeth and smile healthy
Help you make your home safe for your child
Weigh your baby
Help with breastfeeding
Build a happy, loving and fun relationship between you and your child
Be the best parent you can be!
Call the Malheur County Health Department at 541-889-7279 to learn more.