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Allan Schwartz, Ph.D.Allan Schwartz, Ph.D.
Dr. Schwartz's Weblog

Child Abuse Prevention

Allan N. Schwartz, LCSW, Ph.D. Updated: Apr 21st 2009

 Remember the story of the man who has a bad day at work, comes home filled with stress and kicks the dog? Sadly, it is more likely that the man or woman who comes home after a bad day then "kicks the kids" in order to release anger and frustration. In psychoanalysis that is called displacement, whereby the anger is redirected away from a dangerous boss who can cause you to lose your job onto the children who rely upon you for love and approval.

There is no question that raising children is hard work. Today it is complicated by a number of factors:

1. There are many single parent families in which a parent must work and come home to care for her or her children without any help.

2. The prevalence of drug and alcohol abuse has reached epidemic proportions. Too many parents, upon reaching home, are already drunk or high on some other drug. This does not allow for cool tempers to rule. Instead, drugs and alcohol damage peoples' ability to use good judgement and causes many of them to burst into rage at the slightest self perceived offense.

3. Financial problems increase feelings of fear and worry. This fear and worry can too easily spill over into abusive behavior.

4. Marital problems are often the spark that can ignite child abuse or child and spouse abuse.

5. The lack of extended family and good friends deprives many parents of the emotional and physical support they need.

The Ancient Greeks pointed out that a community is like a living organism, and children belong to the community. Therefore, when something bad happens to one of them the entire community suffers. More recently, it has been expressed in this way: "It takes a village to raise a child."

These things hold as true today as they ever did. So, what does this say about what we can do to help parents and parents help themselves?

1. Refrain from drinking before you come home and after you arrive home. Alcohol can interfere with functioning especially if you are drinker with no limits and who become easily angered.

2. Develop a sense of humor. There are so many things that happen to us that they deserve a good chuckle rather than an angry reaction. You kids will not be young forever. Enjoy the things they do and learn to laugh together.

3. If you become angry refrain from shouting and yelling. If your child has misbehaved, crouch, have them look at you and explain what specific thing they did wrong.

4. If your child is an infant, then hold, cuddle and kiss the child.

5. Do not be too proud to reach out for help. Ask neighbors, friends, relatives, doctors, teachers and your religious leader for help and advice.

6. Neighbors and friends: Reach out and offer help, encouragement, understanding and support.

7. Parents, talk to your children and listen to them. Its called communication. There is no such thing as too much love and too much communication.

Your comments are encouraged.

Allan N. Schwartz



Allan Schwartz, LCSW, Ph.D.

Readers who live in the Boulder, Colorado metro area, or in Southwest Florida may contact Dr. Schwartz for face-to-face consultation. He is also available for psychotherapy through Skype video for those who are not in Florida or Colorado. He can be reached via email at for details.

Reader Comments
Discuss this issue below or in our forums.

An important topic ... - Silentmist - Apr 23rd 2009

If only we would make our communities centred around child welfare.  So many adult problems stem from childhood issues and prioritising children more would help to minimise them for future generations.  We could start now by making the availiability of Tobacco, Alcohol and Sexualcentric  (not just pornography but chat/lifestyle magazines, et al) media far less apparent as we walk through our communities.  These adult products send a very unhealthy preconcious messege to impressionable kids.

The Greeks had it right - 2002to2009 - Apr 21st 2009

Hi, Dr. Schwartz.

Thanks for the article. The ancient Greeks had it right. In a community, people depend on each other, and it works out to everyone's benefit. Today, it seems like the only real community we have left is the Internet, and that small farming communities and small towns in general are an endangered species.Meanwhile, people are taught that it's a dog-eat-dog world, and it's often true. Without a sense of community, does our incentive to care for our children diminish? It's a fascinating concept. Do you think that a dwindling sense of community is an inevitable result of globalization?

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