What would it look like for Guilford County to be a community that provides a safe, nurturing environment in which all children can thrive and grow into their potential? Can you imagine what it would take to build a community that would serve as the ultimate buffer or protective factor against child abuse? The safety, health, and wellbeing of every single child would be at the top of our shared priorities. Let’s imagine five of the bold moves we’d need to make to move this from a vision to reality:
- First, we’d need to make children’s safety one of our top priorities and ensure that all children had safe homes, neighborhoods, and schools that were free from any forms of violence and abuse–including physical and sexual violence, emotional abuse, neglect, bullying, and cyberbullying.
- Second, we’d build greater economic opportunities for parents to achieve financial stability, including meaningful work and adequate financial resources to provide for their families. Financial stressors can take a major toll on families, whereas economic stability offers families opportunities to create a solid foundation for children’s futures.
- Third, schools and all other organizations that serve children and their families would have adequate resources to provide support that families need to thrive. Local businesses, volunteer organizations, faith communities, colleges and universities, and individual donors would offer financial, volunteer, and other needed support to ensure that the needs of local children and families are being met.
- Fourth, parents and caregivers would be supported in growing their knowledge and skills to help them be the most effective parents they could be. Parent education programs would be mainstream resources that are available to all.
- Fifth, community norms would hold problems and challenges as a natural, normal part of life, making it easier for people to admit when they’re struggling and in need of help. People who feel no shame in seeking help, but rather they would feel proud of themselves for taking steps to make a better life for their families.
Perhaps these bold moves seem overly idealistic to you. Perhaps the type of community I described above–one in which all children can thrive in a safe, nurturing environment–seems too difficult to attain. In truth, no one person will be able to build this community on his or her own. However, we can work together as a community and make this type of community a top priority for Guilford County. All children in our community deserve a chance to thrive. As we approach the end of Child Abuse Prevention Month, let’s commit to continuing to work toward helping children in Guilford County thrive, all year long.