Families had the opportunity to have fun together and learn a lot April 13 at the Bright Beginnings Family Fair held at the Galleria Mall.
Over 20 organizations, from the Houston Medical Center to the Houston County public library system, were partners at the event, sponsored by the Rainbow House as part of Child Abuse Prevention Month.
According to Tian Foss, prevention programs director at Rainbow House, the Bright Beginnings Family Fair was an opportunity for the community to enjoy itself while learning about child rearing and child development issues.
What we believe is that all families are subject to child abuse, Foss said. Just having a child puts parents at risk. Then add something like a child with colic or a parent losing a job and that puts stress on families. It is not that parents want to hurt their child, but that they dont have support resources and that puts them at a higher risk for child abuse. We feel that by providing information about who to go to for support, child abuse can be lowered.
Child abuse can be divided into four main types: physical, sexual, psychological and neglect. Neglect is the most common form of abuse by a parent.
Neglect isnt always criminal neglect, Foss said. It can be because you dont have the money to put food on the table.
Foss said that asking for help, especially as a parent, can be a humbling experience.
As parents we are suppose to provide for our children, Foss said. We dont want families to be embarrassed. One of the purposes of the fair was to let families know the resources that are available.
Foss also explained that another purpose of the fair and Child Abuse Prevention Month was to educate the general public about abuse.
Surveys show that while nine out of 10 people think that child abuse is a serious issue, only three out of 10 will report it. We have to know how to identify abuse and how to report it, Foss said.
For those that feel like they just dont know a lot about abuse, Foss says that they are not alone.
Child abuse is really a new topic for the United States because children have only had rights since the 60s. But we cant depend on children to protect children. We as adults have to do it.
For those unable to attend the fair and are looking for a resource, Foss suggested the United Ways 211 line, where a trained referral specialist can provide information on a large range of subjects including resources for food, clothing and shelter. The Rainbow House, which can provide resources on those dealing with a child abuse situation, can be reached at 923-5923.