Mature, responsible males play an indispensable part in making the home a safe place for children. Yet, an estimated thirty-two million Americans each year are affected by family violence.[i] That being said, it’s important to recognize that most adult men do not pose a threat to children and, in fact, play a crucial role in creating safe and nurturing families. However, there are certain actions all adults can take to contribute to child safety, not just men.

Let’s Begin by Defining Family Violence[ii]

Family violence (also named domestic abuse or domestic violence) is a pattern of behavior that involves violence or other abuse by one person against another in a domestic setting, such as in marriage or cohabitation.

10 million children are exposed to family violence every year!

Effects of violence

What are some effects on children of family and/or community violence?

  • If hurt by violence, a child may have to cope with physical or medical problems
  • A child may also have mental health problems, including PTSD
  • Studies have found signs of PTSD in babies and young children

Here are some key areas where adult men can make a difference:

Promoting Positive Masculinity

Challenge harmful stereotypes about men: 

  • Speak out against the idea that men are naturally aggressive, emotionless, or dominant. Promote a vision of masculinity that values empathy, emotional intelligence, and respect for others.

Be a Role Model:

  • Demonstrate healthy relationships, respectful communication, and responsible behavior. This includes modeling non-violent conflict resolution and positive interactions with women and children.

Engage in healthy activities with children: 

  • Spend quality time with children, playing, talking, and listening to them. This builds trust and allows you to identify any potential concerns.

Supporting Families and Communities

Advocate for and support policies that protect children: 

  • This could include funding for mental health services, child protective services, and educational programs on child abuse prevention.
  • Get involved in local organizations: Volunteer with mentoring programs, youth sports leagues, or other initiatives that benefit children.
  • Speak up if you see something: If you suspect child abuse or neglect, report it to the appropriate authorities. This is crucial for ensuring children’s safety.

Within the family:

  • Share parenting responsibilities equally: This could include childcare, housework, and emotional support. This helps create a safe and nurturing environment for children and demonstrates respect for all caregivers.
  • Communicate openly and honestly with children: Encourage children to talk to you about anything, including their feelings, worries, and experiences. Create a safe space where they feel comfortable seeking help if needed.
  • Educate yourself about child abuse and neglect: Learn about the signs and symptoms, and how to talk to children about safety.

It’s important to remember that child safety is a shared responsibility, and everyone has a role to play. By promoting positive masculinity, supporting families and communities, and taking action within their own families, adult men can make a significant contribution to creating a safer world for all children.[iii]

The following is excerpted from the Urban Light Ministries course P.O.P.S. 101[iv].

The father as Protector helps identify and neutralize all internal and external threats to your child’s and family’s well-being. This includes having regular “safety huddles” about:

  1. Chemical, fires, electrical
  2. “Stranger Danger”
  3. Appropriate touching
  4. Online predators
  5. Bullying

What Masai Men Teach Us

Together, we can create a culture of men and fathers as protectors.

How are the Children[v]
Among the most accomplished and fabled tribes of Africa, no tribe was considered to have warriors more fearsome or more intelligent than the mighty Masai. It is perhaps surprising, then, to learn the traditional greeting that passed between Masai warriors:”Kasserian Ingera,” one would always say to another. It means, “And how are the children?”

It is still the traditional greeting among the Masai, acknowledging the high value that the Masai always place on their children’s well-being. Even warriors with no children of their own would always give the traditional answer, “All the children are well.” Meaning, of course, that peace and safety prevail, that the priorities of protecting the young, the powerless, are in place. That Masai society has not forgotten its reason for being, its proper functions and responsibilities. “All the children are well” means that life is good. It means that the daily struggles for existence do not preclude proper caring for their young.

I wonder how it might affect our consciousness of our own children’s welfare if in our culture we took to greeting each other with this daily question: “And how are the children?” I wonder if we heard that question and passed it along to each other a dozen times a day, if it would begin to make a difference in the reality of how children are thought of or cared about in our own country.

I wonder if every adult among us, parent and non-parent alike, felt an equal weight for the daily care and protection of all the children in our community, in our town, in our state, in our country. . . . I wonder if we could truly say without any hesitation, “The children are well, yes, all the children are well.”

What would it be like . . . if the minister began every worship service by answering the question, “And how are the children?” If every town leader had to answer the question at the beginning of every meeting: “And how are the children? Are they all well?” Wouldn’t it be interesting to hear their answers? What would it be like? I wonder . . .

From REACH February 1999

i http://archive.uua.org/re/reach/teaching/masai.html

Making Your Home Safe for Small Children

General Safety:

  • Install smoke and carbon monoxide detectors on every level of the home and test them monthly.
  • Set the hot water heater temperature to 120°F (49°C) to prevent burns.
  • Store potentially toxic items like medications, cleaning products, and pesticides securely and out of reach.
  • Use outlet covers on all unused outlets and keep cords tucked away.
  • Secure furniture and appliances to the wall to prevent tipping.
  • Keep poisonous plants out of reach.
  • Install pool and spa fences at least 4 feet high with self-closing and latching gates.

Living Room and Play Areas:

  • Cover sharp corners of furniture with corner guards.
  • Use cordless window blinds or secure cords out of reach.
  • Remove small toys and objects that could be choking hazards.
  • Store magnets, batteries, and other small items securely.
  • Anchor bookcases and other heavy furniture to the wall.
  • Place gates at the top and bottom of the stairs.
  • Use fireplace screens and keep flammable materials away.

Kitchen and Bathroom:

  • Install cabinet locks on all cabinets containing cleaning products, medications, and other harmful items.
  • Use outlet covers on all unused outlets.
  • Secure trash cans with childproof lids.
  • Keep cleaning supplies and personal care products out of reach under the sink or in locked cabinets.
  • Install toilet lid locks.
  • Keep the oven door locked when not in use.
  • Turn the pot handles inward on the stove.

Bedrooms:

  • Use a crib that meets current safety standards.
  • Keep crib bumpers, pillows, and loose blankets out of the crib.
  • Place the crib away from windows, curtains, and cords.
  • Use outlet covers on all unused outlets.
  • Anchor dressers and changing tables to the wall.

Additional Tips:

  • Get down on your hands and knees to see the world from your child’s perspective and identify potential hazards.
  • Supervise your child closely, especially in high-risk areas like the kitchen and bathroom.
  • Teach your child about safety rules and expectations.
  • Be consistent with your rules and enforcement.
  • Keep a first-aid kit readily available.
  • Childproof your car and follow safe driving practices when transporting your child.

Remember, childproofing is an ongoing process. As your child grows and develops, you must reassess your home and make adjustments to keep them safe.

Assurance from the Holy Scriptures

The Lord is my shepherd;
I shall not want.
He makes me to lie down in green pastures;
He leads me beside the still waters.
He restores my soul;
He leads me in the paths of righteousness
For His name’s sake.

Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death,
I will fear no evil;
For You are with me;
Your rod and Your staff, they comfort me.

You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies;
You anoint my head with oil;
My cup runs over.
Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me
All the days of my life;
And I will dwell in the house of the Lord  Forever.

– Psalm 23:1-7 NKJV

Join

We invite you to join this new and growing community of fathers, Fathering Strong. To register, go to www.fatheringstrong.com, download the free app, and turn on the notifications. Explore the many resources, engage in conversations with other fathers, and share your story.

Your financial contributions allow us to serve fathers at no cost. Please consider donating. Fathering Strong is powered by Urban Light Ministries, Inc., a not-for-profit organization founded in 1995 in Springfield, Ohio. Our mission is to turn the hearts of fathers to their children and the hearts of children to the Heavenly Father.  Go to www.fatheringstrong.com to donate. To learn more about Urban Light Ministries’ history, work, and mission, explore www.urbanlight.org.


[i] Linda Mills, Violent Partners: A Breakthrough for Ending the Cycle of Abuse (Basic Books 2008). http://www.violentpartners.com/. For more see: On My Shoulders TM Activity Journal, pg 113.

[ii] Excerpted from the Urban Light Ministries course P.O.P.S. 101 https://www.fatheringstrong.com/courses/7467745/content

[iii] Here are some additional resources that you may find helpful:

  • The National Sexual Assault Hotline: 1-800-656-HOPE
  • Childhelp USA: 1-800-422-4453
  • The Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network (RAINN): 1-800-656-HOPE You can also get help online at RAINN’s website: https://www.rainn.org

[iv] https://www.fatheringstrong.com/spaces/7467745/content

[v] Adapted by Pat Hoertdoerfer from an excerpt of a speech by Rev. Dr. Patrick T. O’Neill