Childhood. How would you describe yours? Waking up to having a breakfast made that satisfies your taste buds and stomach, having transportation to and from school, being involved in extracurricular activities that seem to never stop asking for necessary purchases, dinners out and fun vacations. Or perhaps, it was waking up to pour your own cereal, taking the bus, coming home to a quiet house to do your homework in front of the television. Both of these scenarios have something in common with the other. They both have loving parents involved.
ChildSafe is not an organization that we want to imagine any child ever needing. The sad fact is that according to ChildSafe, Bexar County has had the highest rate of confirmed victims of child abuse or neglect. They exist because there are children out there that don’t have either one of the descriptions above as their daily routine. ChildSafe’s mission is to restore dignity, hope and trust to children traumatized by abuse and neglect. Although we don’t want to think about it happening, it does exist and there are ways we can help. One is knowing the signs of a child who is being abused:
- Changes in Behavior. Abuse can lead to many changes in behavior. Abused children often appear scared, anxious, depressed, withdrawn or more aggressive.
- Returning to earlier behaviors. Abused children may display behaviors shown at earlier ages such as thumb-sucking, bedwetting, fear of the dark, or fear of strangers.
- Fear of going home. Abused children may express apprehension or anxiety about leaving school or about going places with the person abusing them.
- Changes in eating. The stress, fear and anxiety caused by abuse can lead to changes in a child’s eating behavior.
- Changes in sleep. Abused children may have frequent nightmares or have difficulty falling asleep, and as a result may appear tired or fatigued.
- Changes in school performance and attendance. Abused children may have difficulty concentrating in school or have excessive absences, sometimes due to adults trying to hide the child’s injures and authorities.
- Lack of personal care or hygiene. Abused and neglected children may appear uncared for. They may be consistently dirty and have severe body odor or they may lack sufficient clothing for the weather.
- Risk-taking behavior. Young people who are being abused may engage in high-risk activities such as using drugs or alcohol.
- Inappropriate sexual behaviors. Children who have been sexually abused may exhibit overly sexualized behavior or use explicit sexual language.
- Unexplained injuries. Children who have been physically abused may exhibit unexplained burns or bruises in the shape of objects. You may also hear unconvincing explanations of a child’s injuries.
The children saved from child abuse by ChildSafe are given trauma-specific treatments to help move forward and past the abuse. We at Pierson Orthodontics chose to help them in this journey. From April to May of 2017, we accepted donations to go toward their efforts. As always, our patients contributed above what we could have ever done on our own. We were given diapers, underwear, children’s clothing, books, gift cards, school supplies, and so much more.
Monique, the financial coordinator for Pierson Orthodontics, and her son, Ian, delivered the donations. We find great joy in allowing our employees to include their families in our community outreach. Although some of our experiences can bring bitter sweet emotions to all involved, we find that through these family events, a bigger understanding of what we are called for in this world is given. That day, Ian enjoyed learning what ChildSafe was about. He also found the cardboard kids located in the waiting room amusing and imagined what kind he would create. He asked a lot of questions and at one point, after Monique described what some of these kids endure, he became quiet. Monique said, “I have those moments all too often, when I’m struck with the realization that I am blessed beyond what words can describe. Perhaps, I didn’t land my position at Pierson Orthodontics for any other reason but because God knew what he wanted my purpose in life to be, and he put me with the Pierson’s so that I would be lifted up to do that very thing.”
For it is in giving that we receive. – St. Francis of Assisi