DHS News April 2014
with “One Kind Word”
About 40 Department of Human Services (DHS) employees recently
attended a lunch time workshop on what do when witnessing potential child
mistreatment in public.
The workshop in the Human
Services Building (HSB), Downtown, included an introduction by Dr. Walter Smith
Jr., Deputy Director of the DHS Office of Children, Youth and Families (CYF).
Presented by Jennifer Polly
of Family Resources’ Parent Education Network, the presentation used the “One
Kind Word” curriculum that advocates distraction in assisting parents or
caregivers and children in public situations. The curriculum was developed by
Family Resources and Family Communications Inc. for training by retail
employers, but the advice in “One Kind Word” fits many situations.
DHS staff watched a video
that laid out several situations -- a harried mother who had to grocery shop
after work and lost patience with her child; a man who allowed his daughter to
stand up in a grocery cart – and then discussed whether and how they would
react to those situations.
It is not necessary to make
judgments about the people’s reactions, Walter said. Instead, the key is to
distract the caregiver to prevent a situation from escalating. “Success is about disrupting the intensity
between the parent and child,” he said.
Jennifer outlined the
approach, saying generally, people should look out for a caregiver who is
overwhelmed, preoccupied or angry. Take a moment to “say something pleasant and
helpful,” she said, to connect with a kind word; distract the caregiver from
the situation; and offer assistance.
“Avoid taking over the
situation – remember you’re a stranger,” Jennifer said. Walter cautioned against
engaging with the child as well, for fear of making the caregiver feel
defensive. Jennifer told audience members to not do anything that would make
them feel uncomfortable and instead to find a manager or security guard.
“One Kind Word” is among
programs featured by DHS during April, National Child Abuse Prevention Month.
Visit the DHS Child Abuse Prevention Month page to learn more about many ways to nurture children.
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