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Child Protection Week reinforces the critical importance of prevention

Posted by Kerrie Gottliebsen | 04/09/14

The 7th – 13th of September is Child Protection Week in Australia. As a public hospital supporting vulnerable families, Tweddle clinicians are constantly mindful of the children and parents in their care. Whether it be our Residential Program, Day Stay Program, In Home Service or Infant and Perinatal Psychology Service, staff are trained to identify the verbal and non verbal cues that indicate that a child is at risk.

Children are particularly susceptible to abuse and neglect when parents aren’t coping which is the primary reason for families making contact with Tweddle. This week NAPCAN (National Association for Prevention of Child Abuse and Neglect) help raise awareness of child abuse and neglect and how families and health professionals can keep children safe, and how we can teach children to keep themselves safe.

In 2013, over 35,000 Australian children were proven to have been abused or neglected. The term 'child abuse' includes physical abuse, psychological abuse, sexual abuse, neglect and children’s exposure to family violence. Child abuse is rarely a one off incident and is always harmful and the impacts can last a lifetime.

Child abuse is known to increase the risks of substance addiction, crime, homelessness, poor physical health, educational failure, poor employability prospects and depression and suicide. Given the devastating impacts of child abuse and neglect, prevention and early intervention is critical. NAPCAN advises that prevention is an action or a set of actions designed to stop something before it actually occurs.

The prevention of child abuse and neglect is a complex problem needing a whole set of strategies and actions to be successful in stopping maltreatment from occurring. According to NAPCAN, a focus on primary prevention is supported by research that demonstrates the value and significance of early intervention and comprehensive approaches involving a range of child and family welfare sectors to produce positive outcomes for children.

“Tweddle clinicians attend regular training sessions around identifying and responding to infant/child trauma and abuse” said Tweddle CEO Ms Jacquie O’Brien. “Primarily, our parenting education is underscored by strengthening parenting attachment and connection through building a parents’ awareness, confidence and capacity around what a child needs to be healthy, nurtured, and safe”

Parenting Assessment and Skills Development Care Coordinator Abigail Dent works with vulnerable families at Tweddle. “Many parents didn’t grow up in a nurturing environment and many have experienced a number of stressors including family breakdown. It is our job to help these families build important parenting skills and to raise the awareness of the long lasting impacts of abuse and neglect.”

For more information about how you can play a part in preventing child abuse and neglect, visit the NAPCAN website.

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