Friday, January 4, 2013

Will 2013 be "The Year to Protect Children"?

2012 was a year of awakening for many Americans when it came to child safety.  Casey Anthony and Jerry Sandusky are two cases that come to mind simply because of the notoriety and media frenzy that took place surrounding them.  However, there were so many other cases last year: the students in the California classroom, many of whom didn’t even know they were abused and exploited by their teacher; the Internet stings of child pornographers across the country; the countless bullying incidents and cyberbullying deaths.  I could go on, but I believe at this point most people are aware that children in our country being bullied and abused on a regular basis. I don’t think it’s necessary for me to inundate you with cases and statistics to get my point across.

And just what is my point?  Each and every person reading this needs to step up in 2013 and do more.  One cannot know that a problem of this magnitude exists and do nothing and think that is acceptable.  These are innocent children and they need our help. It will take every one of us doing something, working together, to stop child maltreatment.

I often ask, “Why don’t people do more?” I know people are aware, how can they not be with the constant media coverage?  But I know awareness is not enough.  As I said, everyone must act if we are going to stop it.  Because it is AWARENESS + ACTION = PREVENTION! 

Maybe people don’t act because they are busy or because they have other causes they champion.  Or maybe they just don’t know what to do. I don’t want to take away from the time, efforts or money people give to other causes.  And I certainly don’t want to add more to the already stressful lives of American families.  But I also know that with a problem of this size it will take everyone doing something, no matter how small, to stop it.

So I decided to start the year off with a great blog for you – a list of things you can do to help children, parents, businesses, and communities – a list of ways to get involved.  Some are easy and free, while some are a bit more complex, but there is something that everyone can do.  It’s up to you to decide which ones you will choose, but I hope you will choose to do some of these throughout the year.  Imagine how great you will feel knowing that you are helping to protect children and prevent the abuse and unspeakable maltreatment that occurs behind closed doors, sometimes right on our own streets and neighborhoods.

  • Volunteer your time or attend a fundraiser for Monique Burr Foundation (MBF) or your own favorite child abuse prevention charity.
  • Take a class to learn more about sexual abuse prevention or recognizing and reporting abuse so you are an informed citizen and can help a child in need.  Learn more about prevention trainings on our website.
  • Call your local school(s) or school district to confirm they are using our Speak Up Be Safe™ (SUBS) bullying and child abuse prevention curriculum in their school or in all elementary schools.
  • Learn more about what Florida schools are doing to not only educate children, but to keep them safe as well at
  • Give up one coffee or one lunch out a week and donate that money each month to MBF for our SUBS program.  That money can fund the program for nearly 90 students in one school year.
  • Talk to your own children about important safety issues. Use the resources available on the MBF website and blog to help you become more comfortable and find ways to start those conversations.
  • Learn more about the signs of abuse from the Department of Children & Families and Lauren’s Kids; find materials and resources about sexual abuse prevention, including a link to the Safer, Smarter Kids interactive parent toolkit from Lauren’s Kids at
  • Link to MBF’s website and blog on your own personal and/or professional website and email and ask your friends, professional contacts, and your child’s school to do the same.  Add a link to this blog post in your email signature to help us spread the word. Let’s make 2013 the Year to Protect Children!
  • Talk to other parents about tough topics such as bullying, abuse, and sexting, etc., because only when we all start talking about these topics will they become less taboo, and only then will we change the culture of secrecy and silence that allows them to continue.
  • Write letters to your congressional leaders (state and federal) and ask them to support legislation and provide funding to support prevention education for students and school staff as well as other youth serving organizations.
  • Be available and present in your children’s lives even if you are busy with your own life. Monitor online use, learn more about technology (use our online resources and blog) and know what they are doing.  Don’t assume a one-time talk with them is sufficient.  Predators are adept at finding the gaps in children’s safety nets and using them to their advantage.  Make sure your child’s safety net is secure.
  • Ask about child protection policies wherever you take your children (learn more about safe policies in an upcoming blog series) and if an organization doesn’t have them or won’t create them, take your child elsewhere.  You are not only being an advocate for your child, you are letting the agency know this is an important issue they need to address.

MBF thanks you for partnering with us to protect children this year. Make sure you come back to leave a comment and tell us what you’re doing to help make 2013 the Year to Protect Children. We’d love to hear from you!

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