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ACE Made Simple

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Have you signed the petition to protect children from sexual abuse?  Click here to sign now.

If you’re anything like me, you were confused the first time you heard of the ACE Study, and maybe even more confused by the seemingly endless online explanations of the aforementioned study. By now you’ve probably seen at least one article or blog or meme about ACE scores and the ACE Study, but maybe it still seems a bit unsettling at least. I know it seems more than a bit confusing and unsettling to me, so let  me try to simplify it for all of us –  there are ten types of childhood trauma measured in the ACE Study. These abuses, or traumas, are broken down into physical abuse, verbal abuse, sexual abuse, physical neglect, and emotional neglect, and further broken down to the things we witness as children such as a parent who’s an alcoholic, a parent who’s a victim of domestic abuse, a family member in jail, a family member diagnosed with a mental illness, and the disappearance of a parent through divorce, death or abandonment. Each type of trauma a child may experience counts as one “point.”  The higher one’s ACE score, the greater the risk of future problems.  

 

To make it far less complicated, maybe we could just think in terms of the less negative experiences we have as children, the better. But what does this mean to us, in all practicality, as parents? To me, it means let’s take a look at where our own risk factors may be, and take positive steps to reduce or eliminate those risks.

 

What if we took an honest look at our own ACE score and set about to change that score for the better for our own children? Or, what if we looked into our own lives and the lives of our kids as if we were on the outside looking in? Maybe, just maybe, we need to assess and amend some of the practices we use at home, with our own children.

 

Practical ways to lower the ACE score of your children would be to ask yourself some hard questions and to answer them honestly. Drinking too much? Get help ( through AA or another twelve-step program, or your church, or a treatment facility, or any of a host of ways to get help and get a handle on your drinking before it sinks you and your children).  Yelling too much? Hitting your children? Take a parenting class, talk to a friend, read a book about peaceful parenting tips.  Connect emotionally with your children whenever you can – read a book, eat together, take a walk, talk about your day! Learn the facts about sexual abuse, talk about it, and take positive steps to prevent it for your children. (Learn more by visiting www.d2l.org )

 

There are so many practical ways we can reduce the future risk categories for our children, by educating ourselves and seeking solutions to problems that may exist in our home, or with our parenting.  Get creative, get involved, and create a better future for your child and for generations to come by lessening the experiences that have a negative impact on your child’s development and their future.   

 

1 in 5 New York Kids Are Sexually Abused. Help Prevent That

The CDC reports that 1 in 5 children are sexually abused.

9 out of 10 of the perpetrators are never brought to justice and never appear on sex offender registries.

They are protected by New York State laws.

Sign this petition and change that. Protect NY Kids.

Sign Petition Now
Laura Fogarty

Laura Fogarty

Editor, Ask Lala

Laura Fogarty writes “Ask Lala” for the Stop Abuse Campaign. She is a mother, an advocate, and the author of two children’s abuse prevention books: I’M THE BOSS OF ME! and WE ARE JUST ALIKE!

Laura has an ACE score of 7.


The Power of Positivity

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Have you signed the petition to protect children from sexual abuse?  Click here to sign now.

The right way to discipline, we spend a lot of time and energy talking about that. To punish or not to punish? To spank or not to spank? We also spend a lot of time debating that issue. But do we ever really talk about “catching” our children in the midst of wonderful behavior? Or even good behavior, for that matter? How about a little time spent discussing the power of praise?

 

We tend to focus on coping with problems rather than our actual relationships with children. Maybe it’s time to shift our focus from doing things “to” or “for” our kids, to doing things with them. We can respond to misbehaviors with a punitive consequence, or we can use these as opportunities or teaching moments. Helping our children learn to figure out what is wrong and also how to fix it, is actually far more logical than handing down punishments for misbehaviors or even rewards for desirable ones.

 

How about shifting this focus to praising our children? No reward or trinket for behaving desirably, just praise, plain and simple. “Wow! Good job! Awesome!” Is that really so hard? No, it really isn’t. Praising our children should come naturally, even more naturally than yelling at them.  Giving out rewards and handing down punishments are far less effective for tiny brains than the mere act of recognizing the behavior we want and praising the one doing it.

 

Easy enough, right? Yes! Get out there and give an “Super!” or a “Way to go!” whenever possible. Surely we can find ways to “catch” our kids doing something right, and a little bit of praise will turn into more and more of the behavior we are hoping for. Peace.

 

1 in 5 New York Kids Are Sexually Abused. Help Prevent That

The CDC reports that 1 in 5 children are sexually abused.

9 out of 10 of the perpetrators are never brought to justice and never appear on sex offender registries.

They are protected by New York State laws.

Sign this petition and change that. Protect NY Kids.

Sign Petition Now
Laura Fogarty

Laura Fogarty

Editor, Ask Lala

Laura Fogarty writes “Ask Lala” for the Stop Abuse Campaign. She is a mother, an advocate, and the author of two children’s abuse prevention books: I’M THE BOSS OF ME! and WE ARE JUST ALIKE!

Laura has an ACE score of 7.


Bullying Barron Trump

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Have you signed the petition to protect children from sexual abuse?  Click here to sign now.

Have you seen the stories about Saturday Night Live’s  Katie Rich tweeting about Barron Trump? I’m betting you have, and for the sake of not repeating hateful, hurtful words, I won’t re-share the details of her Twitter feed, nor those of Rosie O’Donnell. What they have in common is a complete disregard for the feelings and well-being of a ten-year-old boy. Keep in mind that this little boy did not run for office, and he did not choose to have his life put on display. No matter where we stand politically, no matter who we voted for, one thing we can all agree to is that a ten year old child does not deserve to be bullied by an adult ever.

Bullying has grown to epidemic proportions in our country and the effects of childhood bullying last well into adulthood. As parents, there are many ways to teach our children how not to bully. First and foremost we can lead by example. We can also engage in lessons about bullying to help our children learn not to! Which particular activity or discussion fits your child’s learning style and emotional preparedness the best, is something you can answer because you know your child better than anyone else. Here are a couple of ideas to get you started!

Crack an egg. Have your child crack one too if this is age appropriate. Tell your child to put the egg back together. Talk nicely to the egg. Tell the egg you are sorry. Try to put the pieces of the shell back together and let your child do the same. Follow up this activity with a discussion about how the egg is like a person. Once you say hurtful things, you cannot undo them. Once you hurt someone, you cannot unhurt them. Be careful with your words and your actions, because after they are done, they can’t be undone.

A favorite way among teachers to demonstrate the effects of bullying is to have each child crumple up a piece of notebook paper. Next, have your children try to flatten the paper and talk to the paper telling it how sorry they are for crumpling it in the first place. The paper will never be the same, just like the egg discussion, the damage to the paper cannot be undone.

One more trick for teaching about the harmful effects of bullying and how hurtful words and actions cannot be taken back, is to squeeze a generous amount of toothpaste from a tube. Get your child to try to put the toothpaste back inside. The discussion here is the same as the egg or the paper – that harm cannot be undone.

Prevention and awareness are the keys to ending any type of abuse, including bullying. The only way to stop it, is to STOP IT. Talk to your children. Educate yourself and your kids so that the next generation does better than we.

 

1 in 5 New York Kids Are Sexually Abused. Help Prevent That

The CDC reports that 1 in 5 children are sexually abused.

9 out of 10 of the perpetrators are never brought to justice and never appear on sex offender registries.

They are protected by New York State laws.

Sign this petition and change that. Protect NY Kids.

Sign Petition Now
Laura Fogarty

Laura Fogarty

Editor, Ask Lala

Laura Fogarty writes “Ask Lala” for the Stop Abuse Campaign. She is a mother, an advocate, and the author of two children’s abuse prevention books: I’M THE BOSS OF ME! and WE ARE JUST ALIKE!

Laura has an ACE score of 7.


Bullying

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Have you signed the petition to protect children from sexual abuse?  Click here to sign now.

As a society, we have been inundated lately with stories in the news about bullying – including, most recently, the tragic incident of a special needs student in Chicago who was bullied, taunted, tortured by four assailants. We know by now that all abuse is connected and that one type of abuse begets another, but what if today we look beyond the headlines at the specific correlation between two very distinct types of abuse – bullying and domestic violence. If we can take the time to educate ourselves about the impact of abuse not only on the individual, but on society as a whole, we can begin to understand how to stop it.

Studies indicate that domestic violence is a breeding ground for more violence, meaning that children who experience violence in the home grow up to exhibit it.  Men who as children witnessed domestic violence are twice as likely to use violence toward their partners and children as men who did not witness such violence. Children who experience violence at home are not just growing up to exhibit those same lifestyle choices as adults, but also as children and young adults they are bringing elements of this lifestyle to other children at school in the form of bullying. Victims of bullying and bullies alike (in both high school and middle school) are over four times more likely to have been physically hurt by a family member, and more than three times as likely to have witnessed violence in their family unit. Experts believe that children who are raised in abusive homes learn that violence is an effective way to resolve conflicts and problems.

Domestic violence plants the seed for bullying…bullying becomes a stepping stone to future domestic violence…and the cycle continues.

Every type of abuse is connected somehow to every other variety or form of abuse. To stop one, we must stop them all, but the good news is to stop one type, puts us one step closer to stopping all types, because abuse only stops when WE stop it, through awareness, education, and prevention.

 

1 in 5 New York Kids Are Sexually Abused. Help Prevent That

The CDC reports that 1 in 5 children are sexually abused.

9 out of 10 of the perpetrators are never brought to justice and never appear on sex offender registries.

They are protected by New York State laws.

Sign this petition and change that. Protect NY Kids.

Sign Petition Now

Smart toys, smart idea?

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Have you signed the petition to protect children from sexual abuse?  Click here to sign now.

Have you seen the new, so-called “smart toys” My Friend Cayla and the i-Que Robot? In case you haven’t, here it is in a nutshell – the toys use voice recognition technology and connect via Bluetooth to a mobile app in order to interact with children. Both the My Friend Cayla and the i-Que Robot ask personal questions such as school name, parents’ names, town, and more in order to have seemingly natural conversations with the children who use them.

See where I’m going with this? No? How about the fact that the speech to text technology used to create these “conversations” is from Nuance Communications, a company that sells voice biometric services to military, intelligence, and law enforcement agencies. This type of online privacy violation sets the most vulnerable among us up to be the victims of predatory behavior. Is surveillance really the type of interaction we are hoping for with these “smart toys?”  Is desensitizing our kids to surveilling and the notion that our “friends” can spy on us, record it and share that information the goal of giving these types of gifts? No? Then don’t.

Surely I am not the only one who sees a problem with even the most innocent aspect of these toys – the ask/answer sessions of “how do you make a cake” or “what’s your favorite movie?” being a poor substitute for actual human interaction. How about this holiday season if we just take the actual smart way out and unplug, bake a cake, make some cookies, read a story, color a picture, create with clay or take a walk with our kids instead?

1 in 5 New York Kids Are Sexually Abused. Help Prevent That

The CDC reports that 1 in 5 children are sexually abused.

9 out of 10 of the perpetrators are never brought to justice and never appear on sex offender registries.

They are protected by New York State laws.

Sign this petition and change that. Protect NY Kids.

Sign Petition Now
Laura Fogarty

Laura Fogarty

Editor, Ask Lala

Laura Fogarty writes “Ask Lala” for the Stop Abuse Campaign. She is a mother, an advocate, and the author of two children’s abuse prevention books: I’M THE BOSS OF ME! and WE ARE JUST ALIKE!

Laura has an ACE score of 7.


The Lesson

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Have you signed the petition to protect children from sexual abuse?  Click here to sign now.

Texting and driving is dangerous. It can be deadly. It’s wrong. I think even if you are among those who still text and drive, you would likely agree with me on those facts. Look a little closer at the “lesson” being taught last week at Brohead High School in Wisconsin and you will also surely agree that lying to our children and betraying their trust is also wrong, dangerous, and potentially deadly.

During morning announcements in this small school it was announced that four students had been killed in a car crash. Details were given, including the “fact” that texting while driving had been a factor in the crash, and how one of the victims had been rushed to the hospital, but did not survive. The students who were the pretend victims in this crash were instructed not to answer messages from classmates during this time. Ten minutes later, the announcement was made that this had been a drill. Throughout the day, more announcements were broadcast, including one claiming that a drunk driver had T-boned and killed more students from Brodhead. Students were distraught, confused, and of course, saddened by these announcements. Students who had a problem with the lesson being taught here were told they were weak and drama-filled. Really? This is how we teach children? It wouldn’t be compassionate, wise, or kind to pretend that someone was dead in order to teach a lesson to an adult, so why is it okay to do this to children? The answer, of course, is – it isn’t.

When we lie to our kids about anything, but in this case deaths caused from texting and driving, we create the potential for them to shut down when we tell them something that is true. This lesson actually did the opposite of what its presenters were hoping for. These kids were traumatized, no doubt, but this exercise will not cause them to stop texting and driving, because the consequences were false. If anything, it will make them less likely to stop texting while driving because the only real lesson here was not to trust what adults say.

When we lie to our kids, we betray the very trust required to teach any type of valuable life lesson. If we think this “drill in safe driving techniques” is a useful one, then surely we can think of more intelligent ways to get there. Even if we agree that it takes a dose of reality to sink in a lesson for teenagers, surely we can see that this particular strategy was not reality based.  The students who were supposedly dead, were not. There is no reality to be seen because there is no truth to the consequences of the pretend texting and driving incident. There is no lesson here, except that adults lie to get their way, and adults can’t be trusted. Is that really the lesson we want to teach?

1 in 5 New York Kids Are Sexually Abused. Help Prevent That

The CDC reports that 1 in 5 children are sexually abused.

9 out of 10 of the perpetrators are never brought to justice and never appear on sex offender registries.

They are protected by New York State laws.

Sign this petition and change that. Protect NY Kids.

Sign Petition Now
Laura Fogarty

Laura Fogarty

Editor, Ask Lala

Laura Fogarty writes “Ask Lala” for the Stop Abuse Campaign. She is a mother, an advocate, and the author of two children’s abuse prevention books: I’M THE BOSS OF ME! and WE ARE JUST ALIKE!

Laura has an ACE score of 7.


Child Safety Made Simple

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Have you signed the petition to protect children from sexual abuse?  Click here to sign now.

There are too many facts, statistics, and evidence-based research figures on the unforgiving table of data for child sexual abuse for any parent to remember them all. So don’t. You don’t need to know that nearly a quarter of our children will be sexually abused before reaching his or her eighteenth birthday. There will be no quiz on what age group of children is the most or least likely to fall victim to a predator. No one is going to hold it against you if you can’t quote the latest research indicating that children know their abuser in 90% of abuse cases. As a parent, you don’t have to commit every fact and every statistic to your memory bank. Just remember this – children who possess the language and the permission to talk about sexual abuse are the safest children. Then ask yourself, “Do my kids have both?”

Permission to talk about abuse means exactly that- permission. Create an open dialogue with your children about what’s appropriate and inappropriate, and the importance of trusting one’s instincts. Talking about sexual abuse is not a one-time event; it is an open, ongoing discussion that you and your children feel comfortable with. Give your children the permission they need to talk to you by talking freely and unashamedly about protecting their bodies. Simple enough, right?

Onto the second tool is this combo – language. Children need to know the proper terms for body parts. Perpetrators often use “silly” names for private parts as part of the grooming process. Make sure your child knows the difference between a secret (something to be hidden) and a surprise (something to be revealed). Tell your child it is okay to say “no” if someone makes them uncomfortable in any way.

So forget all the numbers. Never mind with the most recent data. Give your littles the tools they need to be safe – language and permission. It really is that simple.

1 in 5 New York Kids Are Sexually Abused. Help Prevent That

The CDC reports that 1 in 5 children are sexually abused.

9 out of 10 of the perpetrators are never brought to justice and never appear on sex offender registries.

They are protected by New York State laws.

Sign this petition and change that. Protect NY Kids.

Sign Petition Now
Laura Fogarty

Laura Fogarty

Editor, Ask Lala

Laura Fogarty writes “Ask Lala” for the Stop Abuse Campaign. She is a mother, an advocate, and the author of two children’s abuse prevention books: I’M THE BOSS OF ME! and WE ARE JUST ALIKE!

Laura has an ACE score of 7.


Consent

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Have you signed the petition to protect children from sexual abuse?  Click here to sign now.

Give your grandma a kiss. Give our friend a hug. Harmless words, right? All you’re asking is that your child shows some kindness, true? All you are teaching is that he not be rude, right?  Turns out, that’s not so correct after all. When we force physical affection of any sort on our children, we set the dangerous precedent that their instincts are not valid.

Every person, no matter how young, should be able to choose when or even if to have physical contact with others. Just because we, as parents, may have a comfort level with a friend or relative doesn’t mean our kids share that same level of comfort or trust. When we force our children to greet someone or say goodbye with a hug or a kiss or even a handshake, we blur the boundary lines.

Once we’ve blurred those lines, it makes teaching our littles to trust their instincts and protect their bodies all the more difficult. We are allowed to deny affection and physical contact to others when and where we deem appropriate. Don’t our children deserve the same?

 

1 in 5 New York Kids Are Sexually Abused. Help Prevent That

The CDC reports that 1 in 5 children are sexually abused.

9 out of 10 of the perpetrators are never brought to justice and never appear on sex offender registries.

They are protected by New York State laws.

Sign this petition and change that. Protect NY Kids.

Sign Petition Now
Laura Fogarty

Laura Fogarty

Editor, Ask Lala

Laura Fogarty writes “Ask Lala” for the Stop Abuse Campaign. She is a mother, an advocate, and the author of two children’s abuse prevention books: I’M THE BOSS OF ME! and WE ARE JUST ALIKE!

Laura has an ACE score of 7.


Happy October!

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Happy October

By Laura Fogarty

 

 

Happy October! What a wonderful time of year for our littles – fall festivals, pumpkin patches, trick-or-treating, and plenty of cooler weather activities to bring our children out and about!

Unfortunately, when situations exist to draw children, they also draw predators. Does that mean we avoid festivals, parties and trick-or-treat? No, of course not! It means that we need to recognize the importance of keeping our children safe no matter the circumstance.

        * First and most importantly, make sure to accompany your children for trick-or-treat.

        * Be aware that though we have over 614,000 registered sex offenders in the United States, this list is far from all inclusive.

        *Minimize opportunity for predators. Don’t allow children to be in isolated, or one on one situations with adults or older, more powerful children.

        *Be an example. Set a precedent for child safety by making sure all interactions with children in your care are observable and interrupt-able.

        *Talk to your children about boundaries and knowing that they can say “NO” to an adult when they feel uncomfortable.

        *Encourage your children to speak out and tell you if someone makes them feel uncomfortable in any way.

Autumn is a wonderful time of year, and by knowing the facts, and being vigilant, we can keep the experiences and memories of this joyful season safe, happy, and healthy!

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The Journey of Childhood

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The Journey of Childhood

By Laura Fogarty

 

 

Childhood milestones are a source of pride and happiness for most of us as parents, and rightfully so. First smiles, first steps, learning to ride a bike, and learning to swim, to name just a few. We marvel as our children begin to speak and read, and grow into increasingly independent beings. It is very natural to have feelings of happiness and joy from watching our children’s growth and development. But sometimes, we turn these natural milestones into a competition, and that’s something very unnatural.

Just as we expect babies to roll over, crawl, and walk in their own time, so too should we expect that our children will learn and mature and develop at their own unique pace. We shouldn’t compare our children’s grades, or test scores or athletic ability to that of another child any more than we should compare behaviors or attitudes or maturity levels. Every child will develop and learn in his or her own time. The lesson then, is really for us as parents. We need to acknowledge and accept that it that it is okay to be patient as our children move through childhood on their own unique path.

It is okay that our child will not learn and grow at the same rate as our neighbor’s or our boss’s or our sister’s children. Give yourself the permission to relax and expect challenges, setbacks, and missed benchmarks. Allow your children to be little, and when they are big, they will know how to be.

 

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Breaking The Cycle

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Breaking the Cycle

By Laura Fogarty

 

 

Secrecy. Lies. Guilt. Shame. These are the cornerstones of any abusive family. It doesn’t really matter the type of abuse, or the severity; the secrets, the lying, the overwhelming guilt and shame are there. In my case, for my childhood, it was sexual abuse that caused the secrets, and the lies, and the guilt and the shame. I hadn’t even acknowledged my own abuse before I had children, but before I ever admitted anything to myself, I knew I wanted things to be different for them.

       

If you ask my children, they will tell you I never lied to them. Ever. Sometimes, I bet they wished I would have. As they have grown up and grown older, I think it is one of the things they have come to count on:  they can trust me. “Is there really such thing as the Easter Bunny?” my then two-year-old asked. My answer, “No. He is make-believe.” There is probably some appropriate middle ground between the lies and the secrecy of abuse and the honesty that I required of myself, but I couldn’t find the way there and so I made truth the only option, no matter the circumstances. I never kept secrets. I told them anything and everything they wanted to know.  

       

Breaking the cycle is not an insurmountable task, nor is it an easy one. I went to the opposite end of the spectrum for my children. I was young and naïve. I thought if I gave them my time, and my heart, and my honesty that I would have successfully broken the cycle for my children. I believed if I was nice, they would be nice and that was my only rule – “be nice.” Again, there has to be a middle ground between abuse and never showing negative emotions.  Thankfully, for my children, my approach worked. They were and are kind, considerate, wonderful people.  When they were little, I thought if I was angry it made me a bad person. It took me a long time to realize that I was allowed to be angry. It’s what you do with the anger, or in the midst of it, that makes you either abusive or not. Simply having a negative emotion doesn’t make you horrible; it makes you human.

       

While my parenting tactics worked for my family, my children, they may or may not work for others. No one way of parenting works for every child or every family, and I certainly don’t claim to know everything, but I do know this – every child deserves a peaceful, safe home, and it doesn’t really matter the reason for creating it for them.

 

Prevent the Abuse. Break The Cycle

No Child Deserves Abuse
Laura Fogarty

Laura Fogarty

Editor, Ask Lala

Laura Fogarty writes “Ask Lala” for the Stop Abuse Campaign. She is a mother, an advocate, and the author of two children’s abuse prevention books: I’M THE BOSS OF ME! and WE ARE JUST ALIKE!

Laura has an ACE score of 7.


Where Is the Line?

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Where Is the Line?

By Laura Fogarty

 

 

Many of us parent in the same way that our parents did – especially when disciplining our children. Most of us see no problem with this, but when we hit our children, it tends to escalate into a little more and a little more until that tiny smack has one day become a beating, and we have no idea how or why we got there.

 

Whether or not you support a parent’s right to spank his/her children, certainly there must be at least one instance or story of children being beaten that caused you to rethink the broad scope of the term “spanking.” We talk about a pop or a smack or a spanking as a harmless means of disciplining children, but part of the problem of that line of thinking is that we see nothing at all wrong or unacceptable about the means with which we discipline a child, until we are so far over the line, we can no longer even see the line.

 

Where do we draw the line? When is spanking acceptable and where does it cross over into abuse? If we were taught how to raise children by our parents, and presumably, our parents were taught in the same manner, then hitting children seems normal and acceptable. We even argue that we turned out “just fine” as a defense of spanking. For one thing – raise the bar, because “just fine” seems a pretty low standard for raising human beings and for another thing? If someone thinks it is okay, acceptable, and normal to hit a child, then they did not turn out “just fine.”  

 

So where is that line? How far is too far to go when spanking a child? How many hits are okay? How much force is necessary? How many blows does it take before the line is crossed into abuse? How severe is the mark before it is quantified as abusive and not just discipline? The questions are complicated but the answer is simple – don’t hit, don’t spank, don’t pop, smack, or beat your child. That makes it simple. No line to cross. No bodily harm. No lasting scars. Get educated. Learn the facts. Raise your parenting skills, not your parental hands. Discipline, of course, but not with a switch or a belt or a cord or a hand. No confusion, no worry. Don’t hit your children at all and there is no question of “where is the line?”

 

Laura Fogarty

Laura Fogarty

Editor, Ask Lala

Laura Fogarty writes “Ask Lala” for the Stop Abuse Campaign. She is a mother, an advocate, and the author of two children’s abuse prevention books: I’M THE BOSS OF ME! and WE ARE JUST ALIKE!

Laura has an ACE score of 7.


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