Observing, Understanding, and Responding (O.U.R.) to Child Abuse and Neglect for children who are deaf/hard of hearing has now expanded from a CO H&V chapter pilot to a national effort, thanks to the support and perseverance of Dr. Harold Johnson at Michigan State University, also a board member of the national/international organization of Hands & Voices.
Based on a ‘community of learners’ approach with the CO H&V Guide By Your Side Program, the O.U.R. Children’s Safety Network now includes members from over 15 state Hands & Voices chapters. The group meets once a month to discuss ideas for disseminating information, educating, and ultimately making an impact in reducing the number of children who are d/hh and subject to child abuse and neglect.
Hotline Specifically for D/HH Population
One of the accomplishments of this project is partnering with ChildHelp.org and the creation of a toll-free number specifically for support for children who are deaf/hh. This number can be called by anyone anonymously who needs information/support about a particular situation. The number is 1-800-222-4453.
If, as a parent, you are feeling overwhelmed:
- The Hotline counselors can help you with your child’s problem behaviors.
- The Hotline counselor can help identify the situations that trigger your child’s problem behavior, and then discuss what you have done in the past that has worked and not worked, and help you choose other ways of responding. They can also recommend parenting books, suggest ways to improve communication with children, and discuss how to discipline in a fair manner.
- The Hotline counselors can help you understand what normal behavior is at different stages of your child’s development. For example, babies sometimes cry for no reason, even after you have done all you can to comfort them. Two- and three-year-olds have tantrums. These things, while frustrating to deal with, don’t mean you are a bad parent.
- The Hotline counselors can provide non-judgmental emotional support.
- When you are feeling isolated or overwhelmed, Childhelp’s hotline counselors can provide a safe outlet for your stress and anger.
- The Hotline counselors can refer you to local groups who may provide additional help.
- Our hotline counselors can listen to you. They won’t blame you.
Other reasons one might consider calling the hotline:
- A child calling for help who is experiencing or is in threat of experiencing abuse
- Callers needing to report abuse but unsure of the ramifications
- Callers feeling suicidal or needing intensive intervention
- Frustrated parents precariously close to abusing their child
- Teens who are concerned for themselves or a friend
- Anyone experiencing sexual abuse or the effects of past sexual exploitation or abuse
- Callers needing a definition or the signs and symptoms of child abuse or neglect
- A report of system failure – CPS was contacted but nothing has happened and caller wants to know what else can be done
- A youth who suspects that someone will conduct a violent act at school or neighborhood
- Adult survivors of sexual abuse to address lingering effects of the traumatic abuse they experienced
New Project on the Horizon: “Bright Spots”
The O.U.R. Children’s Safety Network has recently begun a new project to expand the impact of its work, aptly named, “Bright Spots”. This project has begun a search for 100 Individuals to serve as “Bright Spots” members of a community of learners for the protection & success of our children. The following is a description of the efforts of this project and opportunities for involvement.
Reality: Children with disabilities are two, to three times more likely to experience to abuse and/or neglect than their nondisabled peers. This experience significantly impairs their health, learning, language, social behavior, and academic performance.
Problem: While a great deal is known regarding the causes, indicators, impact, and prevention of childhood abuse and neglect, most children, parents, and professionals are ill prepared to prevent, observe, understand, or respond to possible incidences of abuse and/or neglect.
Solution: The identification of 100 community leaders to serve as “Bright Spots,” i.e., respected and trusted individuals who participate in a community of learners to share, gather, and develop the knowledge, skills, and programs needed to increase awareness, enhance communication, and establish programs for the protection and success of our children.
Strategy: Ask three questions of three individuals that you trust and respect within your community, e.g., a parent, teacher, counselor, administrator, social worker, etc.
- Awareness: “How can I protect my child from experiencing abuse and how can I tell if my child has experienced an abusive situation?”
- Communication: “How can I talk with my child about their risk for abuse and how can I encourage them to tell me if they have experienced an abusive situation?
- Programs: “What programs can be used to teach my child how to be safe and what to do if they find themselves in an unsafe situation?
Identify those individuals that provided a credible response to one or more of the questions. Send the names and contact information of the identified individuals to the “Bright Spot” Project Directors, i.e., Harold Johnson/Michigan State University (firstname.lastname@example.org) and Janet DesGeorges/Hands & Voices (email@example.com). Harold and Janet will then contact the individuals regarding becoming a “Bright Spot.”
*A collaborative project of: Hands & Voices; Association of College Educators–Deaf/Hard of Hearing; Convention of American Instructors of the Deaf; National Center for Hearing Assessment & Management; Childhelp.org; & National Exchange Club Foundation.