Strengthening Families through Social Connection: A Glimpse into Child Abuse Prevention

by Chase Webber, Prevention Education Specialist

My wife and I are very fortunate that while I am at work, she gets to spend most of her day with our son. He has almost reached his first birthday, and it has been wonderful to hear the daily stories of all of their adventures, his new abilities, and new discoveries. One of the most enjoyable stories to listen to is about their time at the class they attend once a week where they discuss a different topic while learning to socialize with others as they participate in fun, stimulating, developmental activities. Hearing about the progression from my wife being shy, sitting by herself, keeping our son in a bubble, and bringing his own toys to play with, to her interacting with the other adults, letting our son roam free, and letting him put everything he sees in his mouth has been amazing.

These types of classes are so important for families, and it wasn’t until I attended one recently that I understood why.

I had only been to class once, early on, when my wife first started attending. Our son was still only a few months old, so his interaction was limited. I enjoyed watching him play with his toys, listen to the songs, and smile when approached by another child. The second time I attended was months later. Our son was walking, interacting with every adult and child in the room, sharing the toys, and clapping along with the songs. My wife was talking to other parents, and all the kids loved her as well. I was overjoyed that such a naturally shy person had become comfortable enough to socialize and build relationships.

Half way through the class, my attention on my family was turned toward the other families in the room. A mom came rushing in to class 30 minutes late, wearing her pajamas and tennis shoes, carrying her young child also in his pajamas, both looking like they rushed out the door not worried about their appearance as much as making it in time for the class. Mom arrived with a giant smile on her face. The moment she walked in, she was greeted with warm welcomes, hugs, and instantly became part of the group.

It was in that moment that I realized what child abuse prevention really looks like.

I began looking around, and saw something amazing. A group of people, all completely different, had found a place where they could be themselves, build relationships with other parents, let their children learn valuable social behaviors, and know that they aren’t doing this alone. A mom in pajamas just happy to be there, a dad whose wife passed away before their child was a year old, a grandpa wanting to spend some time with his grandchild, a stay-at-home mom, a stay-at-home dad, along with many other parents and caregivers, all had found a place to belong, sharing the one thing they had in common, caring for that child.

I left class that day in tears. Tears of joy. Joyful because I had seen families strengthened to take on the rest of their week.

April is National Child Abuse Prevention Month...

...a month focused on providing safe and nurturing environments for children everywhere. Groups like this one play a vital role in building protective factors in families by providing social connections, valuable parenting skills, and advice that strengthen the family unit.

To learn more about the protective factors and how you can play a part in the prevention of child abuse, visit