Have you ever asked yourself, “What can I do when I’m overwhelmed with feelings of anger and frustration when taking care of my child?” If you’ve asked yourself this, you’re not alone-most parents feel overwhelmed, angry, and frustrated with their children at one time or another.
Carol Sesco, spokesperson for the Department of Human Services in Utah, says there are some resources we can use to prevent any kind of abusive behavior against our children. “The first thing we should do when feeling out of control, is to go to another room where we can be by ourselves and close the door so we are not disturbed. Then we should try to calm down, call a family member, a friend or a neighbor and ask if they could watch the child or children for at least two hours,” says Sesco.
Another thing we can do is to check in with our local county or city resources. Most counties and cities have a Crisis Center and any person is allowed to leave their child younger than twelve years old, for 72 hours. Sesco says it’s just smart to know if we have a local crisis center, and to have its number posted in a handy spot. “Crisis center workers want to help, and they’re non-judgmental-they understand parents have problems just like everybody else,” Sesco explains.
Now here’s another question: Have you ever asked yourself “What should I do if I see that my neighbor is overwhelmed, angry, or frustrated as he is caring for his child? What do I do if I’m worried that there’s some abuse going on?” According to Sesco, this is a very real concern, and neighbors are smart to watch out for each other.
Sesco advises that when we suspect the existence of abuse of a minor and believe that a child is in immediate danger, we should call 911 to report. But if we believe the jeopardy isn’t immediate, then we should call the Division of Family Services in the area where we live, to talk to a social worker about what we are seeing.
“Physical abuse usually leaves marks on the child,” says Sesco. She further explains that sometimes long pants and long-sleeved shirts worn in the summer time could be signs of abuse, since parents could be trying to hide any physical marks they inflicted on the child. Also, we should watch the child’s behavior-they may demonstrate fear-not wanting to go home, for instance.
If we do call to report suspicions of child abuse, we will visit with a social worker who will ask some pointed questions. We need to know we cannot make an anonymous call, but we can be assured the call will be confidential, and that the victim must be under eighteen years of age and the abuser must be identified. Also, the social worker will want enough information from us so that a decision regarding whether to investigate or not, can be made.
Child abuse is a community concern, so not just neighbors, but schools, doctors and others have the responsibility to report it. It’s important to know that the Division of Child Services doesn’t always remove a child from their home-in the majority of the cases they try to work with the family, looking for solutions through counseling and parenting programs. Even if the child is taken away from the family, they usually return after the conditions in the home improve. The main thing we all want to remember is that parenting can be hard for any of us, and the best thing we can do is watch and help one another.