It can be uncomfortable to watch the mistreatment of a child by an adult. Fortunately, there are things you can do…

  • Strike up a conversation with the adult to direct attention away from the child. Say something like: “She seems to be trying your patience.” “My child has gotten upset like that, too.” “He has beautiful eyes.” Get parent in good mood. “Children can wear you out, can’t they? Is there anything I can do to help?”
  • Divert the child’s attention by talking to the child.
  • Praise the child and parent at the first opportunity.
  • If the child is in danger, offer assistance. For example, if the child is left unattended in a shopping cart, stand by the child until the parent returns. Avoid negative remarks or looks. These are likely to increase the parent’s anger and make matters worse.


Overwhelming numbers of juvenile delinquents, adolescent runaways, violent criminals, sexual offenders, and prostitutes report childhood histories of battering and exploitation. The cost to society of supporting and treating these individuals and their victims is staggering. A case of identified child abuse costs at least $2,000 for investigation and short term treatment; much more when a child is hospitalized or put into foster care. Children who see others abused, or who have been abused are six times more likely to abuse a spouse or child when they become adults, than those raised in homes without violence. One girl in three and one boy in six will be victims of sexual abuse before they reach age 18. 93% of abused children are abused by members of their own family.


Make a list of community resources available to your employees: include after school programs, and parents’ stress support services and classes. Highlight Child Abuse Prevention Month by including information in your company newsletter. Enclose information in employee paychecks or customer bills. Collaborate with local services helping children and families; provide volunteer or financial assistance. Use a child abuse prevention print ad on your bags. Print bookmarks and use as bag stuffers. Have your receipts print a message about child abuse prevention. Post information from “How to Stop Child Abuse in Public Places.”


Talk to children; let them know that they can talk to you if they are being abused. Be supportive and offer resources to the child and family. Offer programs and information to students and parents on child development, stress, family living, and effective forms of discipline. Include information in newsletters. Examine your own environment and formulate a policy prohibiting corporal punishment in your school. Work to prevent violence: teach conflict management. Start after school programs to give stressed parents a chance to relax and children a safe place after school. If you work with older children, educate students on dangers of becoming a parent before they are ready. Keep books and information on child abuse in your library. Provide in-service training to educate staff on issues of child abuse and neglect.


Start an adults survivors group; many abusers were abused as children. Keep stock of parenting and child abuse information to pass out to clients; create bookmarks for parents. Collaborate with local agencies to host workshops and training to educate the public about child abuse prevention. Hang posters in clinic and hospital waiting rooms. Make parenting information available in waiting rooms. Refer stressed out parents to community resources, parent support groups; have resource lists available.