Raleigh, NC January 10, 2001 Its an all-to-familiar scene.  Youre standing in line at a grocery store as the young parent in front of you tries to calm an impatient child while at the same time monitoring the checkout process and digging for a wallet.  Too often, the scene ends in harsh words being spoken or physical force exerted on the child. As an observer, youre left feeling embarrassed for not having intervened and frustrated for not knowing what to do.

According to Prevent Child Abuse America, 30 percent of Americans report having witnessed physical abuse of a child and 75 percent report observing verbal abuse.  Yet nearly half of these Americans also report having done nothing to intervene, primarily because they did not know how to respond.

With more than 120,000 children reported to the child protective service agencies as alleged victims of child abuse and neglect each year, there is clearly a need to educate the public on how to respond to these incidents, says Jennifer Tolle, executive director of Prevent Child Abuse North Carolina. People often feel helpless when they witness child abuse in a public place because they dont know what to do. Fortunately, there are several effective and safe ways people can help.

Prevent Child Abuse offers the following tips on how to stop child abuse in a public place:

1.   Start a conversation with the adult to direct attention away from the child.  For example: 

      She seems to be trying your patience.
My child has gotten upset like that too.
 He has beautiful (eyes). (Get the parent to see a positive.)
Children can wear you out, cant they? Is there anything I can do to help?

2.   Divert the childs attention (if misbehaving) by talking to the child.

3.   Look for an opportunity to praise the parent or child.

4.   If the child is in danger, offer assistance. For example, if the child is left unattended in a grocery cart, stand by the child until the parent returns.

 5.  Avoid negative remarks or looks. These reactions are     likely to increase the parents anger and could make matters worse.

You can help stop the cycle of abuse by notifying your county Department of Social Services, Child Protective Services Division, when you suspect that a child is being abused or neglected. Your report can be anonymous. Child abuse rarely stops without intervention and help. It is the law that every citizen report suspected child abuse and neglect.

For more information on child abuse prevention in your community, call 1-800-354-KIDS.

Prevent Child Abuse North Carolina Prevent Child Abuse North Carolina is a statewide network of child abuse prevention and family support agencies.  Our mission is to help strengthen families and communities to prevent child abuse and neglect.  Our prevention network accomplishes this through public education, training, advocacy and support services for children and their families.

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Prevent Child Abuse North Carolina was founded in 1979 by a group of concerned citizens and is the single, statewide not-for-profit organization with the mission of ending child abuse in our state.  
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Prevent Child Abuse North Carolina
3344 Hillsborough Street
Suite 100-D
Raleigh, NC 27607
Phone: 919.829.8009
Fax:  919.832.0308

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