Center for Hope Resources

Advancing hope, healing and resilience

You can be the difference

Children affected by a homicide may suffer from the same stresses endured by victims of violence, regardless of whether they’ve actually witnessed the crime. If you see signs of trauma in a child you know or in your care, take action. One caring, supportive adult can make the difference in the resiliency of a child. You can be the support. You can be the difference.

Effects of a traumatic event

Children who witness homicide or lose a loved one to homicide can suffer from traumatic grief. This means that even if the child was not physically hurt or involved in the event, they can still be psychologically affected by what they have seen or heard.


Common reactions to a homicide or other violent crime:

  • Prolonged crying and sadness
  • Fear
  • Nightmares and difficulty sleeping
  • Anxiety
  • Nausea or headaches
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Disorientation and confusion
  • Uneasiness
  • Emotional detachment
  • Anger
  • Acting out emotionally


Even if children are not direct witnesses of the violence, they can still suffer the same traumatic stresses as victims. The most effective way to help minimize any long-term effects is to contact BCAC as soon as possible after the event.

How BCAC can help

BCAC offers services to help children who have witnessed or have been affected by a homicide. These services include advocacy and therapy. Please contact BCAC at 410-396-6147 for any questions or concerns.

Stop Sexting

It may seem like just a picture or a video, but once sent, you can’t take it back. Digital information lasts forever, and you have no control over who it gets sent to and who will see it.

What is Sexting?

Sending sexually explicit photographs or messages via mobile phone or another electronic device. “But I just sent it to one person! Who else can see it?” Once you send or post an image or video, you have no control over how it may be distributed or how long it will remain online. That means your friends, family, strangers—everyone could potentially view the image, including college admissions staff and potential employers.

Can I get in trouble? Is it illegal?

Any form of depiction of a minor less than 18 years that is sufficiently sexually suggestive or in which that youth is engaging in sexually explicit conduct is child sexual abuse images.

What do I do if I’ve sent something or if someone has distributed an image of me?

Delete it as soon as possible or have an honest conversation with the person you sent it to and let them know you would like them to delete it. Always talk to a trusted adult. This may be a parent, a caregiver, a teacher or a counselor. They can help you decide what further steps need to be taken.

Remote video URL

Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs)

In 1995, CDC researchers discovered 10 common Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs) relating to child abuse, neglect and household dysfunction that have remarkably been proven to have costly detrimental outcomes as children become adults. BCAC recognizes the integral role that ACEs play in understanding childhood maltreatment, which is why we’ve included it in our agency mission.

Healthy Relationships with Children

Teach and model characteristics of healthy relationships to your child including empathy, expressed feelings, equality, fairness, respect and boundaries. It is important to know that most abuse is in the hands of someone who has gained the trust of a victim and their family.


  • Encourage Questions: Good communication ensures that when something is difficult, the parent or caregiver is there to help. If your child tells you they feel uncomfortable with an adult, listen.
  • Listen: Encourage your child to come to you and other helpful, healthy adults with questions about bodies and touch. Review your family’s values and rules for both at home and when you are not around. A child must be empowered to listen to their instincts.
  • Teach Empathy: Empathy plays a major role in a child’s future happiness and success. Empathy promotes kindness, prosocial behaviors and moral courage. It is effective against bullying, aggression, prejudice and racism. This allows children to imagine others’ boundaries and begin to understand how to respect those boundaries.
  • Be Friendly, Not Friends: Adults who work with your child should have training and be competent and appropriate to their level of responsibility.
  • Trust Your Instincts: You know your family and child better than anyone and if something does not feel right, then it is not right.
  • Teach about Healthy Sexuality: Teach your child to recognize appropriate behavior and to avoid exploitive or inappropriate behavior towards others. Respect your child’s decision to protect their body and space. Remember, an offender will slowly try to groom a child and their parents and caregivers through more “normal” touches.
  • Help Your Child Understand their Boundaries: Teach children to understand physical, emotional and behavioral boundaries. Adults must establish and respect appropriate boundaries with a child.
  • Watch for “Red Flags” with Other Adults and Your Child: Trust your instincts and remove your child from a situation if you feel uncomfortable. Be aware of red flags such as an adult treating your child as a peer, using inappropriate language or inappropriate touch, allowing or encouraging illegal activities, treating your child as a favorite, or looking for time alone with your child.
  • Empower Your Child: Empower your child as a partner in the prevention process. Encourage them to adopt healthy strategies to protect themselves, such as checking with a caregiver/adult before doing activities, going places with friends instead of alone and identifying trusted adults.
  • Keep the Rule of Three: Make sure that all of your child’s interactions with others are observable, interruptible and appropriate. Offenders operate by access, privacy and control. If your child must be alone with an adult for lessons or sports or babysitting, check in occasionally or show up at an unexpected time, just to be sure everything is okay.
  • Tell Your Child that Secrets are Not Okay: Tell your child that there are no secrets kept in your family, and no one should ever ask them to keep a secret. Talk about surprises instead – how we surprise people with gifts and presents on their birthday or planning a party. The difference is that surprises are always shared with others and secrets are not.
  • Inquire about Verbal Interactions: Ask your child about conversations they have with other adults. Adults should never participate in the use of inappropriate names, belittling comments or sexual innuendos.
  • Talk about Body Safety: Teaching your child the proper names for their private body parts will help them communicate with you if they should ever have a question related to illness, hygiene or abuse.
  • Talk and Talk and Talk Some More: Create an environment in your home where your child feels comfortable sharing information and asking tough questions without being judged. Be accessible, and non-judgmental. Maintain ongoing communication and dialogue about safety issues.
  • Laugh with Your Child: Laugh! Our days are filled with stress, obligations, work and school. Even though you are physically present with your child, you may be disconnected. Laughter, play and joy are essential to connect with your child.
  • Encourage Your Child: Encourage your child to tell you or a trusted adult when they see inappropriate or harmful interactions between an adult and child.
  • Model Respect: As the saying goes, we have to give respect to earn respect. We cannot teach respect to a child by being disrespectful to them.
  • Tell the Truth: Have open and honest conversations with your child. Speak to your child in a developmentally appropriate way and in a manner that suits their skill level. Their concerns should be addressed honestly and directly.
  • Report: It is imperative that all incidents of inappropriate behavior of an adult with a child be reported to the appropriate person and/or civil authorities. Not all inappropriate incidents are abuse but reporting to a supervisor, if possible, can let the person know they are being monitored. If child abuse is suspected, it must be reported to the appropriate civil authorities immediately as required by Maryland law, regardless of how long ago the abuse occurred.

Selecting Child Care

Many of us have faced significant disruption with the closures of schools and daycare centers due to the spreading of the COVID-19 or coronavirus.


While it is very tempting to contact the first person who responds to your child care request on social media or posts an offer to babysit on your community’s Facebook page, you must do your due diligence as a parent to protect your child. Unfortunately, child predators look for times like these when parents are in need.


Below are steps you should take to protect against harm to your child: Conduct phone, video, or in-person interviews. Don’t be afraid to ask tough questions. If the person becomes uncomfortable, then they are not the one to babysit your child.

Sample Questions:

  • How long have you been babysitting?
  • Is there anyone who might suggest that you should not work with children?
  • Do you have experience caring for children of [X] age?
  • What activities do you like to do with kids?
  • How comfortable are you enforcing household rules?
  • How do you typically deal with behavior issues?
  • This is a [screen-free/sugar-free/dairy-free/pet-friendly/non-smoking/etc.] home. Are you comfortable with that?
  • What’s your favorite thing about babysitting?
  • What do you find most challenging about caring for children?
  • Have you taken any child care or safety classes?
  • Are you willing to prepare meals and snacks for my child?
  • Are you willing to assist with any work sent home by the school or online learning requirements?
  • How often do you rely on screens when caring for kids?
  • Do you have experience caring for children with allergies?
  • Do you have experience caring for children with special needs?
  • What would a typical day/evening/afternoon caring for my children look like?
  • Do you have reliable transportation?
  • How long have you been driving, and do you have a clean driving record?


Check references. References can be more important than the interview.


Sample Questions:

  • How long did the person babysit for you, and how often?
  • Did they have any attendance issues?
  • Did they follow the rules of your house?
  • Did your children like them? Why or why not?
  • Do you think they could handle an emergency?
  • Were there any incidents or issues during their babysitting you want me to know about?
  • Would you hire them again?


Check their social media. Check Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and other social media accounts and be on the lookout for any photos of behavior that might make them inappropriate for the job. Anything the person posts publicly online is fair game for you to use as part of the screening process. Search the internet for any news articles about them. Review state and local websites to obtain any relevant public information.


Beware of red flags. Be concerned if a babysitter:

  • Forgets something significant that you discussed.
  • Doesn’t return calls or texts in a timely manner.
  • Shows up late.
  • Speaks negatively of past families or children they’ve cared for.
  • Seems unwilling to perform the basic functions of the job.
  • Seems distracted or unenthusiastic.
  • Tells your child that it’s okay not to follow the rules.
  • Asks your child to keep a secret from you.
  • Communicates with your child via texting or social media without you knowing.

Child predators operate by access, privacy and control. Listen to your child if they tell you something is wrong and observe their interactions with the babysitter. Nurture an understanding of healthy relationships in your child. Evidence suggests that children are more likely to disclose abuse when a parent or loved one initiates a conversation about sexuality or abuse. Ongoing communication with our children can help to nurture qualities within them that render them less likely to be targets of abuse.

More Resources


On-site Training Institute:

Please click here for our upcoming offerings.


Off-Site Training:

If you are unable to attend BCAC’s onsite trainings, let us bring the training to you! BCAC provides customizable workshops that can be hosted in the community or at a worksite. To look at our complete list of training offers, click here. To schedule a training for your community or organization, please contact Rosheda Harrell.


Maryland DHR Form 180

Click here to download the Maryland Department of Human Resources form to report suspected abuse.


Tips to Stay Safe Online


Talking to Your Kids About Abuse

Have a conversation with your kids and learn the possible signs of abuse.


Sexual Development in Children

Learn the basics of sexual development and behavior in children.


What to Do if Your Child Discloses

Learn the basics of sexual development and behavior in children.


Safety Scenarios

Check out these safety tips.


How to Check if Your Daycare is Safe

Follow these guidelines to learn if your daycare is safe.


Library of Resources and Research