Sunday, November 13, 2011

COPE24 – Hopes to Prevent Child Abuse by Educating Teens

I came across an article about a new program called COPE24 that’s being implemented in nearly twenty school districts in Missouri. The program aims to teach teenagers about the stresses of parenting and how to recognize neglect and abuse before they even become parents themselves.
There are different forms of child abuse. These are:

  • Sexual abuse – this includes any activity that uses a child to create sexual gratification in you or in others.
  • Physical abuse – this is the kind of abuse that people are most familiar with. This is defined as excessive physical injury or excessive corporal punishment in a child. 
  • Child neglect – this is also considered as a form of child abuse and is punishable by law. Children who are poorly cared for, improperly clothed and not fed properly – among others- are forms of child neglect. 
  • Emotional neglect – this is the kind of abuse that is not easily seen, but affects children all the same. Emotional neglect is when a child doesn’t receive adequate attention from their parents or guardians.

According to a research made by Florida State University Center for Prevention and Early Intervention Policy, children born to young mothers are at a greater risk of being an indicated case of child abuse or neglect and being placed in foster care later. The U.S Department of Health and Human Services has similar findings.
COPE24 works by showing teenagers videos of real-life scenarios (such as that of a father who lost his baby due to shaken baby syndrome), and then they have guided discussion of how to better handle such situations.
I think this is a great program. If you don’t get educated on a topic, you’ll remain ignorant. And there are lots of times when you can probably think back to something you learned and say, “Yeah, that really had an impact on me”.
I’ve always liked the expression, “kids don’t come with instruction manuals”, so programs like COPE24 sound quite helpful.
The numbers of teenage parents are growing everyday – and teenagers are usually not mature enough to understand their own emotions, forget those of a child! So at least if we can’t prevent so many teenage pregnancies maybe we can at least minimize the damage that they can cause.
COPE24 is still on its early stage, and I guess the biggest obstacle right now is how to get through to teenagers. While this sounds like a great program, we all know that parenting is the last thing on a teenager’s mind. It’s very hard to get them to listen to these kinds of messages. I wonder how they’ll deal with low interest among teenagers.

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