April is Child Abuse Awareness Month

April is Child Abuse Prevention Month
By Capt. Megan Fitzsimmons, Pediatric Clin

April is Child Abuse Prevention month, and the Air Force is empowering families to triumph over childhood violence.

According to experts from the National Center for Injury Prevention and Control, more than 740,000 children are treated in emergency rooms as a result of violence every year; that is more than 84 children each hour. Every year, more than three million reports of child abuse are received by state and local agencies – a staggering six reports every minute.

The key to avoiding childhood violence is prevention. Families who have stable and nurturing relationships are less likely to experience childhood violence in their homes than families who are unstable.

Children need parents who can identify and provide for their needs. Parenting can be difficult and stressful, and sometimes they need support, resources, and guidance to take the best possible care of their children.

There are several protective factors that can help lower the incidence of child abuse:

· Build a strong bond with your children by making time to do activities together.
· Find the best positive coping strategies for your family.
· Enforce discipline with clear limits and boundaries for children older than 15 months of age – with expectations based on their age and development.
· Understand the basic development of a child’s age.
· Recognize your own limitations and know when to ask for help.
· Be socially active! Being active is healthy for both parents and children.
· Have a good support system and know who to call if there are questions or problems.

These protective measures are important for families since they reinforce one another.
· Child Welfare Information Gateway website: http://www.childwelfare.gov
· National Parent Helpline: 1 (855) 427-2736 or http://www.nationalparenthelpline.org
· Born Learning: http://www.bornlearning.org
· Parents Anonymous: 903-629-7588 or http://www.parentsanonymous.org.

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Purchase blue pinwheels that symbolize Child Abuse Awareness. Put them on your lawns in front of your house. Put them in your place of employment. Put them out for all to see and become Aware of Child Prevention. There are also Pins and bracelets to help spread this important message with everyone. There are many places on the internet that sell them. I know that Amazon sells them also. We can all do our part and acknowledge  April as Child Abuse Awareness and bring attention to this terrible crime against children.

L.B.

 

ALWAYS AND FOREVER

It was right here all alone!
Perhaps we can forge a new path together.

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My husband and I argued over something so stupid this evening. But I’ve learned through time and experience that when we are fighting about something so stupid that there are more important issues that are not being said. As is often pointed out by marriage councilors, “it’s the elephant in the room”, that we seem to walk around but never acknowledge. I know the elephant won’t go away unless we deal with it. For some reason tonight was the night. Life sometimes has a way of putting things right there in front us whether we are ready or not. I was encouraged to address these issues by my therapist but I have learned that I have to be very careful how I put things to my husband because he is very sensitive and takes everything to heart just like I do. Oh, what pair we are. There are all these little annoyances that can erupt into an emotional explosion if not properly dealt with. It’s the explosion that brings real issues to light. Well, that is what sort of happened tonight.
I don’t want to talk about the content of the argument because that doesn’t even matter. but I think that the fact that it triggered something bigger, all though painful, needed to be said.
Its been so easy to take for granted what we have as a couple. It is possible to lose sight of what each of us needs so we stop providing it whether it is hugs or compliments and sometimes even manners. I think that it’s because we have lived more than three decades with each other and it has become so easy to get comfortable in our regular routine that we miss the importance of what brought us together in the first place. Our love for each other. We created a bond that grew in our hearts over the years. That bond has always been there right along but somehow got pushed aside by the fast pace of life. The girls are all grown and have their own lives. They don’t need us so much. So this should be the perfect time to come together and maybe do something that we never had a chance to when the girls where home. It could be a time of discovery. It could be exciting. Instead of looking at life through older eyes thinking that we are over the hill and we should just throw in the towel and let life happen to us, we could re-discover each other.
I want my husband to know that we don’t have to give into a set way of advancing in age. He looks at himself as old when he is only in his 50s. Really……I’m not old. Does he think that I am old? I may be a grandparent but that does not mean that I have to live like the typical old granny that sits there in her favorite chair knitting while sounded by cats. No…..that is just not me. I want him to see that too.
Tonight could be a turning point in our relationship. We got through all that stuff that we were holding onto for so long. Perhaps we held on because we thought that it would be a good thing for our marriage not to bring up things that could anger each other and take away the peace from the house. It didn’t work. As a result of holding back, we have put a wedge between each other. We were not being fair by hiding how we really felt. If we are doing that than we are also holding back what each other needs. What we need is the biggest issue. Tonight we took a leap of faith and revealed what each other really needs. It’s a start in the right direction. I don’t know where this new-found knowledge will lead us but I know for sure that I do not want to go backward and live like we were in some sort of marriage limbo where we seemed to be living more like roommates than husband and wife. I know for sure that I’m not throwing in the towel on getting older or on our marriage. I have a lot of life left to live and a spark in my heart that just won’t keep quiet.
If we choose to, we can live in a world of comforting illusion.
We can allow ourselves to be deceived by false realities.
Or we can use them to hide in silence our longings.
But its time for our marriage to come out of hiding
We don’t live in illusions that should be.
But we live in the possibilities of what could be and strive to make that our reality.
“Always and Forever” was there from the start
and from that moment on it has lived in our hearts.

Linda

MY SISTER, MY HERO

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My sister is amazing in every way. She is my true Hero in life. It is her strength of spirit and will that never ceases to amaze me. Her strength had enabled me to carry on despite what was going on in our childhood.
Let me tell you a little story. When she was about eight and I was five we were in the same school together. I was in kindergarten and she was in third grade. Well, she was out at recess walking around and became disoriented. She wandered off and no one knew that she was even missing until recess was over and the kids were all called to line up. They found her in the woods by the school. She hadn’t gotten that far away so thank goodness they found her in time. They approached her and tried to get her to go with them and she would not move. It was like she was terrified to move. They did not know what was wrong with her at that time so they were very confused as to why she was there. The only thing that they thought to do was to come and get me out of my class and see if she would go with me. I didn’t even understand what was going on. Hey, I was only five. They led me to her and I approached her and said, “Kim what’s wrong?. She would not answer. She did not talk. I simply said, “well come on let’s go back to the school”, and I took her hand and she began to walk with me. I don’t even think she knew at that time what was happening to her. They were all happy that she got back to the safety of the school. They called for my parents to come and pick her up. I remember being very worried about her and it was hard to focus in school for the rest of the day.
I finally found out what was wrong. She was slowly losing her eyesight. How terrifying that must have been for her. She eventually went completely blind due to a genetic disease of the retina of the eye which causes a gradual deterioration of the retina. So gradually she began losing her sight. She went through so many emotions before she got to the point of accepting that she was going blind. She was very angry and hard to control in the beginning. It was a huge challenge for my parents. She would not cooperate with anyone. Gradually over a few years, her moods stabilized and then they knew that they could start working with her to help her learn how to manage without her sight.
She ended up going to school in Hartford. It was Oak Hill School for the Blind. I heard it’s much different now and includes children with other disabilities. I think they even work with disabled adults also. She remained in that school for 21 years learning all kinds of life skills including how to read and write in braille. It’s funny, she tried to teach me braille but I just couldn’t get it. To me, it just felt like a bunch of clustered raised dots but to her, it was letters that formed words and sentences that opened a whole new world for her. She loved to read. She had her own braille writer and so she could keep a journal about her feelings. She often wrote her own stories. They were very entertaining.
I am so glad that she was away from home most of her childhood because I knew that at least she would be safe from all that was happening at home. At least one of us siblings got to be safe and to have enough food and clothing and toys. I was glad for that. She would go by the Gray-Hound Bus to Hartford every Sunday and stay all week and then come home for the weekend. I hated that she was away so much because I missed having her there in our room. I felt all alone without her most of the time and that in-of-itself made me an easy target for my Dad to abuse me. But I’ll say it again, at least she was safe.
When she was home my Mom always put me in charge of her when we went outside to play. I loved my sister and I understood what my mom needed from me but I was three years younger than her and to be given such a big responsibility was not right. But I did the best that I could. There were times that I just wanted to play and not worry that she could get hurt. I was just a little girl and I did not have the reasoning of an adult so there were times that I resented it.
Kim became the poster child for the Institute for the Blind. A really cute picture of her sitting on Santa Clauses lap got in newspapers all over the country. People mailed us clippings from various other states. Some were actually distant family and some were just people who were moved by her story and that adorable picture of her. I was so proud to be her sister. It’s like we had a celebrity in our house. There were times however that I was a little jealous because for that period of time it seemed that she got so much attention and I felt invisible. As I became an adult, of course, I could see how important that was in helping her feel a sense of pride despite her disability. I do feel bad now that I was jealous of her.
I know that this is going to sound really strange but as a child, I actually had this crazy idea that I would try to make myself go blind. I stared at a light bulb until my eyes burned but it did not work. I went outside and tried to stare at the sun for as long as I could but it just burned my eyes too much. Then I thought to press on my eyes as hard as I could. Thank goodness nothing worked. Why did I do this? Simply through a child’s mind and sense of survival, I knew that my sister was safe and my father could not molest her. I just wanted to be safe also. I was willing to lose my sight to be safe. I was just a child and had no idea of the seriousness of my attempt to destroy my sight. Well enough of me.
Let’s get back to Kim. Through the years she has had many accomplishments. She has done things that no one would guess that a blind person could do. After her acceptance of her disability, she did not let anything stand in her way of finding joy and adventure in her life. She has traveled. She won many ribbons and trophies in the Special Olympics. Most ribbons were from swimming. She has learned so well over the years to adapt to her handicap and find her way in the world. All of her others senses were so keen and sharp. She used these finely tuned senses to help herself get around safely. This was truly amazing to me. She now lives in a supervised house. It’s her house but twice a day someone comes to check on her to see that all is alright and if she needs anything. Otherwise, she is very independent. How could I not be proud that she is my sister? I have always looked up to her and admired her strength and will to go on and make a life for herself. I admire her perseverance and courage.
What more can I ask for in a sister?

Linda

Monday-Monday

I am all alone as usual. My husband is at work. My four daughters are all moved out and into there own lives. I do see them regularly. I still can’t believe so much time has gone by. My third daughter just got married last October. Perhaps more grandchildren on the way. I have nine right now. I may feel like I am alone sometimes but two of my daughters live just down the street from me. I go there pretty often to visit.

I would like to institute a mother daughter’s movie night. I have not asked them yet but I think they will love the idea. It doesn’t have to be every week or even every month as long as we do it. I think this is a fantastic way to spend time with them because they live busy lives. The mother-daughter connection is so important to me. I think it is to them as well. We are a close family. I am so grateful for them. They are the most important job that I ever had. Raising these beautiful little girls to adulthood has been the best time of my life.

I may have not gotten the love and attention from my mom for whatever reason but I would never think of depriving my children of all the nurturance, care, and love that they should have and deserve. It should always be kids first!

Have a great day!thFVV30SWZ

Linda

Crystal’s Wedding

My girls at different stages of growing up, in no particular order.

Grandchildren too!

First one is My husband and me at our wedding.