Words of love can change a life, but actions speak louder than words. Come February, many people focus their attention on exchanging valentines that share how much they love each other. But do you consider how you are showing love to others by your everyday lifestyle?

The home can be the most challenging place to display love. At the sheriff’s office, we sadly get many reports of domestic violence and child abuse. Even though parents try their hardest to keep their kids safe, turbulent marriages, stressful environments, and other dire circumstances can interfere with the level of care given to them.

In 2018, the most investigated child deaths in Pinellas County were caused by accidental drowning, followed by positional asphyxia, medical-related deaths, suicide, and murder.

Creating a safe space in your home for a child—both physically, mentally, and emotionally—takes foresight, planning, and love. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), about one in five people who die from drowning are children 14-years-old and younger. Some tips to prevent unintentional drowning are:

  • Always closely supervise children in or around water.
  • Teach your children to swim.
  • Learn CPR.
  • Install a locked fence around the pool or body of water by your property.

In addition, monitoring your child’s activity on social media and any communication with friends and family members will help address bullying and the mental or emotional trauma caused by abuse. Child suicides have been on the rise between 2008 and 2016, the CDC reported, some of which were followed by episodes of bullying.

At the sheriff’s office, we provide educational events for the community to help parents navigate the often confusing and stressful technological climate children live in. These opportunities require your time and motivation.

Lastly, abusive head trauma too often follows episodes of anger and frustration. If you find yourself in a dangerous emotional state that could cause harm to your child, take a break and call a trusted friend or family member to help you. Remember that you are never alone and there is always someone who can help you navigate the pressures and anxieties of raising a child.

If you have reason to believe that a child you know is being abused, neglected, or abandoned, call the Florida Abuse Hotline at 1-800-962-2873. If you suspect or know of a child in immediate danger, call 911.

This Valentine’s Day, tell your children that you love them, but also show them that love by being intimately involved in their lives and taking the necessary precautions for their safety and wellbeing.  

Posted by Joanna Cheshire Friday, February 1, 2019 4:33:00 PM

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