How to be A Guardian Angel

Gulf Coast Healthy Living Magazine Volume 3, Issue 2 - FamiliesFirst Network

A Practical Guide for Bystanders

Have you ever been going about your business when you saw something you knew wasn’t right? Did you have a gut feeling that someone was being taken advantage of or harmed? Did you do something? When you’re a bystander witnessing inappropriate, dangerous or threatening behaviors, you have an opportunity to be a guardian angel. April marks two very important safety awareness observances, National Sexual Assault Awareness Month and National Child Abuse Prevention Month. Now is a good time to consider what you might do to prevent a bad situation or rescue someone from harm.

Often it is not one individual act that makes us aware that something is about to turn violent or abusive, but a series of behaviors that can lead up to a violent event. So how do you know when it’s time to intervene? It will help to view the behavior on a continuum with healthy, age-appropriate, mutually respectful and safe behaviors on one end and abusive and violent behaviors on the other end. In the middle of the continuum are age-inappropriate or non-mutual behaviors. If your assessment falls toward the abusive and violent end, it may be time to step in with action that will prevent the behavior from escalating to something much worse.

According to Florida Statute, everyone has a responsibility to report suspected abuse, neglect or exploitation of children and the elderly. To report abuse, call The Florida Abuse Hotline: 1.800.96ABUSE.

When everyone makes it a point to be aware and care, we make great strides in creating a safe environment for others around us and a stronger community for everyone.

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To learn more about how you can recognize and prevent abuse of the most vulnerable members in our community,visit the following websites:

Florida Department of Children and Families: FAQs

Child Welfare Information Gateway

The Ounce of Prevention Fund of Florida

From Blue to Better