child abuse prevention arizonaWhen we meet people for the first time, or run into an old acquaintance, there is one question that regularly comes up:

“What do you do?”

I began my job as Training Manager with Prevent Child Abuse in July 2014, and since then, when I’ve told people where I work, I get a response that sounds like this:

“Wow. That must be really hard to work with those kids who have gone through that. I could never do that.”

I then try to explain what it is we actually do at Prevent Child Abuse Arizona. Since I get this reaction so much, I thought it would be useful to write about it here, on our blog.

When most people hear “Prevent Child Abuse”, I think what they hear most loudly is “Child Abuse”. Most people have a well formed mental image of what “Child Abuse” is and what it looks like. They know it’s not pretty and it’s not comfortable to think about. When I say I work with an organization that prevents child abuse, people picture that I help abused kids directly. When I tell them I don’t, they no longer have a concept of what it is I do.

I think this is because though people have a well-formed concept of what “child abuse” is, they have a looser grasp on what “prevention” is. Yet prevention is the most important part of our name. It is what we do, and what we want to invite everyone to do. It is the theme of the conversations we facilitate, the concept we want to communicate, the vision we wish to co-create. But what is prevention?

Prevention is the actions taken by people, communities, professionals and policy makers to ensure that a particular something doesn’t happen. And the particular something that we’re focused on is child abuse.

Think of a high-use road in your area. Now picture that a bad winter storm rolls in (use your imagination, Pima and Maricopa county), and the road is covered in ice and snow. Visibility is low. The roads are slippery. No matter how good the drivers on that road are, driving is going to be hard. Now picture that each car on the road symbolizes a family. And the storm represents a time of stress. Stress happens. Storms happen. What can we do to make sure these families get to their destinations safely?

We can educate families on the importance of seatbelts. We can make sure that our local government funds and hires people to put sand or salt on the roads. We can advocate for slower speed limits. We can help lower income families afford snow tires.

All of these actions are examples of prevention. These things help avoid the colossal expense and harm resulting from a car crash.

How does Prevent Child Abuse Arizona prevent the “car crash” of child abuse? We implement and/or advocate for projects, like Never Shake a Baby and Healthy Families, that educate parents on child development and parenting, so that parents are equipped with the knowledge they need to keep their children safe and healthy. We coordinate trainings across Arizona for law enforcement and family service professionals, like our annual Child Abuse Prevention Conference, offering information and tools on best practices to support strong families. We start conversations and work to put systems in place so that child abuse doesn’t ever happen in the first place. We want to do everything we can to make sure families are strong and healthy, because when they are, our communities, our state, and most importantly, our children – thrive.

The first step is awareness. Join us in our efforts.

Thanks for reading!

Have a great day,
Claire Louge, M.Ed.
Director of Training & Outreach | Prevent Child Abuse Arizona