In the news: Another child died at the hands of a parent. Brendan Creato’s life was tragically ended in October, but prosecutors now have more details on how it happened. According to nbcphiladelphia.com, Brendan’s father allegedly took his life because he didn’t want to lose his young girlfriend.
If there’s a lesson to be learned from Brendan’s case, it’s that acts of abuse and neglect can be avoided. Parenting classes, support groups, counseling and similar steps can be taken to help parents and guardians effectively raise each child as appropriate for their various stages of development. For tips on the developmental milestones of children, positive parenting and more, click here (CDC).
To deal with stressful situations while in the moment, parents and guardians can work towards adopting strategies and acquiring skills to balance both emotions and control when challenged by a child’s behavior.
1. Be careful with words and actions; think before disciplining or punishing a child.
2. Back away, take a deep breath and find someone safe to talk to.
3. Ask for someone ‘safe’ (responsible) to take care of the child/children for a few minutes or hours.
4. Once someone is able to take care of the child/children, find a safe and calm place to breathe and clear your head. Consider reaching out to organizations that help parents during emergencies. In St. Louis agencies such as the St. Louis Crisis Nursery provide support. If that type of organization does not exist in your community, work with teachers, neighbors or others who may have ideas on safe childcare options or respite programs.
5. Find a professional to talk to. If you don’t know who to call, consider talking to someone trained to deal with crisis situations (e.g., a counselor, afterschool director, a hospital staff, etc.). They should be able to provide additional resources.
6. Actively seek out parenting classes and groups that provide on-going support and compassionate listening with a level of objectivity and realism.
7. Don’t give up! Trying to get on-going support in some communities may not be easy because of lack of funding, transportation, etc., but keep searching. Someone’s out there for you and your child/children.
8. If you suspect a child is in danger, call your local authorities or Childhelp National Child Abuse Hotline at 1-800-4-A-Child (1-800-422-4453).
9. Learn as much as you can about community services available for those outside of crisis (e.g., food pantries, legal services, etc.). They may be able to lift some financial burdens or other stressors that families face.
10. Read and share the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC’s) framework, Essentials for Childhood Framework, to help individuals and communities promote healthy relationships and environments which help prevent child abuse and neglect.
To those who knew and loved Brendan Creato, “I am really sorry for your loss and wish you peace…”
Final note: If someone asks you for help, do what you can or help connect the dots so that each parent/guardian is given a chance to receive help, learn techniques, etc., that are safe and appropriate for children. Without meaningful support and actions, the cycle of child abuse and family violence will continue.
Some content from my original article of Jan. 20, 2015.