By: Kris Demers, Prevent Child Abuse NC Communications Manager

All children need safe, stable, nurturing environments and relationships to thrive. Science tells us that positive experiences and caring connections are vital in creating healthy brains that form a sturdy foundation for children’s future development. We all have a chance, every day, to nurture the supportive relationships everyone needs to build resilience – at any age.

But the COVID-19 pandemic put many families under great stress, like economic insecurity and social isolation. The caring connections that parents and children would confide in, learn from, vent to, laugh with, lean on, and love who lived outside the household were reduced to virtual connections, or even became nonexistent for a while in the early days of the pandemic.

Just like a car can only bear so much weight before it stops moving forward, challenging life circumstances can overburden families, making it hard for them to provide the best kinds of care and support. To prevent a breakdown in care, we can all do our part to keep the weight of heavy stressors from weighing families down.

Both parental stress and social isolation are risk factors for abuse and neglect. But what if we focused on getting ahead of the issue? What if we, as adults, all saw ourselves as key players in changing outcomes for the future, today? Imagine the possibilities for future generations if we took it upon ourselves to increase the factors that foster the safe, stable, nurturing environments North Carolina’s children need.

The protective factors are conditions in families and communities that, when present, increase the health and well-being of children and families. Research has shown that the protective factors are linked to a lower incidence of child abuse and neglect. The five protective factors are:

  1. Parental Resilience
  2. Social Connections
  3. Knowledge of Parenting and Child Development
  4. Social and Emotional Competence in Children
  5. Concrete Supports in Times of Need

During the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, Prevent Child Abuse North Carolina (PCANC) was still here, equipping communities with the knowledge, support, and resources to make child maltreatment prevention a priority in North Carolina. In partnership with North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services, PCANC created the COVID-19 Parent & Caregiver Guide and an accompanying Social Media Toolkit, both in English and Spanish, to help families navigate the challenges inflicted on them during the pandemic. The guide also includes tips for community members to help unload some of those weights from the families.

But without someone like you, the guide is just a document at the ready to help the next family and community. It takes you, the caring adult, to see yourself as the invaluable piece of the puzzle that can build community and strengthen families. It takes you, the neighbor, teacher, friend, and family-member, to choose to get ahead of the issue, before it ever occurs, unleashing all children’s untapped potential.

We’re still here – and we’re glad you are, too!


PCANC’s Response to COVID-19 with Resources


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