Most of us would not immediately know what to do if we suspected a child was being abused or neglected. The state of uncertainty and concern can be overwhelming. Many are reluctant to get involved in other families’ lives and the options seem extreme – don’t act on your suspicions or report your concerns.
But the harsh truth is each year on average, more than 9,000 New Jersey children are abused or neglected according to the latest statistics from the New Jersey Department of Children and Families. As caring and concerned residents, we must do everything in our power to not only help protect New Jersey youth, but direct them to resources that can help.
We must first acknowledge that children are naturally uncomfortable discussing these experiences, especially with people they know. Fortunately, there is a middle ground.
2NDFLOOR® Youth Helpline is a toll-free helpline available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week to all New Jersey youth ages 10 to 24. By calling 1-888-222-2228, children and teens can speak with professionals and trained volunteers – anonymously and confidentially – about whatever is on their mind.
As of last month, the helpline received 20 calls reporting child abuse and neglect, and child sexual abuse. Some calls were from victims, some from a third party. Think of the countless others that could be helped if they were aware of the service.
We have the opportunity to educate ourselves about these resources, so we can encourage victims of child abuse to get the help they need. More volunteers for 2NDFLOOR are needed statewide to spread the word to teens in their communities.
If you suspect a child or teen is a victim of abuse, let them know that confidential, non-judgmental support is available to them. Visit www.2NDFLOOR.org to learn how you can help answer the call.
Nicole M. Romaine
Director of Development
2NDFLOOR® Youth Helpline
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