children in crisis takes sensitivity, awareness
--By Tony Imms
ATLANTA, June 14--Making a difference in children's lives requires an understanding of the
crises they face, a conference leader told participants in a June 13 session at the
Woman's Missionary Union annual meeting at Wieuca Road Baptist Church, Atlanta.
Cindy Chandler, a consultant with the South Carolina WMU, said in
a session on "Ministering to Children in Crisis" that adults often are unaware
of the crises children face.
"A crisis is an upset in a steady state, a critical turning point leading to better
or worse, a disruption or breakdown in a person's or family's normal or usual pattern of
functioning," she said.
Using the book, "Precious in His Sight" by Diana
Garland as a reference, Chandler gave examples of the most common crises faced by children
and their effects.
Physical, mental and sexual abuse accompanied by neglect represents an obvious crisis,
Chandler said. In 1998, the number of children reported abused or neglected increased by
41 percent, she noted.
Separation -- caused by anything from a friend moving away, the
divorce of the child's parents or the death of someone close to the child -- creates a
crisis for the child, Chandler said.
Anything that requires a major adjustment can be a crisis. She
cited remarriage of a parent, the birth or adoption of a sibling and a family move as
"Expect a crisis," she urged. Prepare by communicating and building trusting
relationships with children.
Observe children for signs of a crisis because they may not tell
you in words, Chandler said. "Non-verbal communication is more important than
Helping a child through a crisis requires listening and
positively guiding the child, Chandler said, adding that helping the child see his or her
power in a situation is important.
Suggestions from conference participants included simply
listening to the child's feelings and allowing the child to write a journal or even draw
pictures to illustrate his or her feelings.
Lessons can be learned from every crisis, and these lessons need
to applied and reinforced, Chandler said.
"Crisis provides an opportunity to learn and grow."
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