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Local child advocates say they see an increase in abuse reports after holiday breaks

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HUNTSVILLE, Ala. - Thanksgiving is just around the corner and though the holidays are really fun, they can also be stressful.

The National Children's Advocacy Center says after every holiday break they see an increase in child abuse cases.

They say that can be for many reasons. Sometimes the whole family is cooped up all in one space, everyone is out of their routine and kids can misbehave in hopes of getting parents' attention.

Sometimes discipline can get out hand. Child advocates recommend taking the time to care for yourself if you are feeling stressed.

"Take a deep breath and recenter yourself, and that helps you be present and more aware," says NCAC Clinical Supervisor Erica Hochberger.

She says finding a way to relax can not only help with discipline, but it can also help you be aware of any signals your child may be giving.

Advocates say during the holidays many people may come over to the home and unfortunately, not all of them may have good intentions. They want parents to be sure to keep a good eye on children during holiday parties and other events.

If you or someone you know is struggling with how to discipline a child, resources are available.

"As a parent it is perfectly OK to reach out for help if you feel like you are getting stressed," says Hochberger. "You worry that you may be approaching that line where it turns from discipline to abuse and you don't want to do that or you think, 'maybe I've crossed that line and that's not who I am and what I want for my kids.'"

Advocates recommend reaching out to the Alabama Department of Human Resources for help.  They say though that may seem like a scary thought to some, DHR has staff that is trained and eager to help. The DHR Family Services Division phone number is 334-242-1773 or 334-242-1950. You can visit their website through this link.

The National Children's Advocacy Center's phone number is 256-533-KIDS (5437). You can also find information on their website.

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