NAPCAN is the National Association for Prevention of Child Abuse and Neglect, dedicated to supporting families and educating communities to keep children safe and nurtured.
A lot of their work is about working with the community to highlight the importance of a child’s first 1000 days. In particular, how the seemingly small things (talking, listening, singing, playing, smiling, laughing, cuddling) can have a positive impact on a child’s brain development, and set them up for a happier, more resilient life.
Their work is also about encouraging everyone in the community to play their part in looking out for children. Caring for children is a challenging job for parents and we all need to support each other and be part of the ‘village’ that is needed to raise a child.
When we talk about preventing child abuse and neglect, we’re not talking about the involvement of the child protection system; we’re talking about what we can all do way back in the beginning before things start to go bad for the family. What many people don’t realise is that this is “primary” prevention and means things like:
- building strong communities where everyone understands their role in protecting children
- valuing children and advocating for their rights, and for their voices to be heard
- encouraging families to get the help they need
- sharing information with families about child behavior, discipline, safety and development
- creating organisations that are child safe and child friendly.
The importance of play:
Playgroups are one of the most simple and effective ways to support families. When a parent attends a playgroup, they not only provide an opportunity for children to play, but they start to build networks where parents can talk to each other and share advice and concerns. Often this can turn into lasting friendships that can get us through the challenging times of parenting.
And always remember that play is important work for babies and children. It is the natural way little people ‘wire up their brains’ and learn how to:
- move their bodies
- use their imagination
- solve problems
- express their feelings
- get along with others
- make sense of their surroundings
- try out adult behaviour.
NAPCAN’s top tips:
So often we get caught up in complicated, contradictory advice about parenting. At NAPCAN our advice is to focus on the simple things you can do to help keep all children safe. For instance:
Tips for your own children:
- Talk to your baby.
- Give lots of kisses and cuddles.
- Never shake a baby.
- Don’t be afraid to ask for help if you need it.
- Join a playgroup.
- Talk to other parents and support each other.
- Try to build a strong network of friends and family who your child can trust.
Tips for all children:
- Be a good role model for children.
- Take the time to really listen to children and believe them if they tell you something is wrong.
- Learn about what help services are available so you can support others if they need help.
- Don’t judge other parents and families; remember that we’re all trying our best.
- Look out for all children, not just your own.
Getting through the tough times:
Raising children can be challenging and exhausting. Remember that everyone finds it difficult at times.
- Have a list of people you can turn to for help and have their numbers handy in your phone
- If possible, plan a time when you can have a break
- Don’t keep your distress a secret; tell someone if you are feeling overwhelmed.
- You may not always feel like leaving the house but there are many benefits from joining a group or going to the park with your baby.
- REMEMBER, IT’S OK TO ASK FOR HELP!!
Want to know more?
Please contact us if you are looking for professional or personal development on any of these topics:
- 7-Steps to Safety for families (When is it OK to leave children home alone!)
- How to build a child-safe organisation
- Child abuse and neglect prevention awareness
- Mandatory reporting of child abuse and neglect
- Domestic and family violence awareness
- Protective behaviours for young children
- All Children Being Safe program for children aged 4-8
- Love Bites respectful relationships education program for high school students.
Please visit www.napcan.org.au to download or order any of the following brochures designed for young families:
- The importance of play
- It’s not okay to shake babies
- Alternatives to smacking
- Listening to babies
- Listening to children
- Keeping children safe from sexual abuse
- 30 ways to boost a child’s confidence
- Use words that help not hurt
- When a child feels sad
- Being a dad
- Domestic violence hurts children too!
NAPCAN has a number of high quality video resources.
- If Your Child Could Talk – a 30-second clip about the importance of a loving environment for babies
- Children See, Children Do – a 1-minute clip about the importance of setting a good role model for children
- Talk to Your Baby – 30-second clip highlighting the importance of talking to your baby (available from September 2017)
- The Continuum of Wellbeing – a short 3-minute film outlining the concept of the continuum of wellbeing for children and how the community can play their part in protecting children (available from September 2017)
NAPCAN coordinates National Child Protection Week every year starting on Fathers’ Day on the first Sunday of September. Keep an eye out for activities in your area and learn more about how to play your part in keeping all Australian children safe from harm.