Growing up in the 60s and early 70s, I was sure that I was abused as a child. I got whippings and there was always the threat of getting another one if I were “hardheaded,” stubborn, or displayed my “ugly ways.” One of the last whippings I got came the month after my 16th birthday.

My mother told me to do something I obviously didn’t want to do, and she said I “sole up,” code for bad attitude coupled with eye rolling. It was New Year’s Day and she beat me right there, fair and square, in the middle of the kitchen floor as she had promised to do whenever one of those attitudinal episodes presented themselves.

I remember the licks from the belt hurt but my feelings were hurt because I was certain I was too old to get a whipping. I got whippings at school, too, that further compounded my belief that I was being abused; however, I know now there was no intent to hurt me and in the long run, I am probably a better person because of the punishments.

I swore if I ever had children, I’d never spank or whip them. I lied. I did, and often for the same things my mother whipped me for. If you’re of a certain age, you probably received discipline through similar methods, too, however, this month, discipline is not what we’re talking about. Not discipline, but abuse and neglect are today’s conversation.

Child abuse and neglect are real, and our children are suffering in so many ways because the people who are designated to care for them have failed or are unable to do so. Sadly, isolation and social distancing prompted by the Coronavirus crisis may provide additional opportunities for children to become victims.

I’ve read at least 20 cartoons, memes, Facebook posts and/or articles about how stressful having the children home, hungry, and with difficult homework all day has been for laid off and out of work parents. Stress, economic and mental instability, and food insecurity within the family are all factors that can lead to abuse and neglect if sustained for long periods.

Most of us parent the way we were parented—good, bad, or ugly. If you were treated with respect and dignity and it was modeled as well as taught, you are much more likely to treat your children and others in this way. If you were abused, you are much more likely to abuse than not. Almost every week there’s a horror story in the news about missing or broken children, about little ones who have been stolen, sold, exploited, or killed by a parent or someone they trusted.

Like at the airport, childwelfare.gov encourages “If you see something, say something, and stand up to child abuse.” This is straightforward and clear. Abused children may not always be so easy to spot but if you listen and look closely, you may notice some of  the symptoms according to www.webmd.com and www.mayoclinic.org.

These warning signs include withdrawal from friends or usual activities, changes in behavior — such as aggression, anger, hostility or hyperactivity — or changes in school performance, depression, anxiety or unusual fears, or a sudden loss of self-confidence, an apparent lack of supervision, and frequent absences from school.

This month we have an opportunity to make the difference – to be the difference in a child’s life. Become a mentor or trusted friend. Listen, get involved, and be part of a safe village for the children in your family, your church and your community. Nothing else you do will be as important.

What are your thoughts on child abuse awareness? I am all ears at #drbondhopson on Twitter and Facebook!

Looking for inspiration, empowerment, uplift, straight talk, an encouraging word to brighten your day? You’ve arrived! Meet Dr. Cynthia Ann Bond Hopson, best-selling author, educator, inspirational speaker, sistergirl–she’s all that and more. All the way from Stanton, TN (you can’t get there from here) to 50 states, six continents and everything in between, she’s wise, witty and altogether wonderful. She enthusiastically invites you to slow down, sit a spell, and share a giggle or two.

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