Trusted adults’ are unspoken heroes
When it comes to combating the issue of child abuse, we look towards the law makers, enforcement agencies, educators, child advocates and helping organisations who are positioned to deal with the problem.
We implement policies and procedures that need to be put in place and seek legislation that adequately serves to protect children from maltreatment. When we hear about the pervasiveness of the problem, we are pressed to create more awareness and more action items to effectively address the issue.
It’s easy to become overwhelmed by all of the information presented to us. Thinking about all of the negative effects and complexities surrounding child abuse can leave people feeling helpless. As individuals, we ask ourselves: what can I do? How do I make a difference and what is my role in prevention?
Our job as individual members of the community is to be a “trusted adult”. Trusted adults are the caregivers, teachers, aunts, uncles, godparents and neighbours. These are the people who children look up to for guidance and support.
Trusted adults are the ones who listen to a child when they have something important to say or have something that they want to share.
These are the individuals who celebrate a child’s achievements while encouraging them to pursue their passions and take on their talents. These are the adults that take time to positively engage with a child and explore what that child is interested it.
The trusted adult is there to highlight good behaviours exhibited by the child. The adults who focus on the unique characteristics that help a child feel special are trusted because they remind young people that there’s only one of them in the world.
Seeing that each child is so special, trusted adults know and demonstrate that no one should ever purposefully hurt our young people. In other words, these adults are not only trusted but they are also safe!
Being a trusted and supportive adult means that you are making the most important investment that can be made. You are building a sense of self-worth and self-esteem that is invaluable to a child.
When children feel valued, they build stronger resiliencies and it means that they can find their voice. It means that they don’t have to handle difficult situations on their own. Ultimately, it means that a child is less vulnerable. In the horrible event that there is abuse in a child’s life, having a trusted adult to lean on can mean the world to a young person. With this support, children can heal from trauma.
It could be viewed as a job or a role but it is also a privilege because trusted adults constantly learn new things from the child(ren) they interact with. Trusted adults are fortunate because they are uplifted by the child(ren) in their lives.
In terms of the heavy and overwhelming problem of child abuse, if we take on the responsibility of being a trusted adult; we know that we are making a difference. In fact, the trusted adults are the soldiers that are on the front line of this battle.
They are the unspoken heroes.
During Child Abuse Prevention month, it seems fitting to thank all the trusted adults of our community. We sincerely appreciate all you do to make a difference in the lives of our children.
• Kelly Hunt is the executive director of The Coalition for the Protection of Children
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