April is National Child Abuse Prevention Month. The Child Abuse Prevention and Treatment Act defines child abuse as “Any recent act or failure to act on the part of a parent or caretaker which results in death, serious physical or emotional harm, sexual abuse or exploitation; or an act or failure to act, which presents an imminent risk of serious harm.” This definition is used by individual states who are responsible for making laws pertaining to specific acts which may be regarded as child abuse or neglect. Child abuse is generally regarded to come in four different forms: physical abuse, sexual abuse, psychological abuse, and neglect. The statistics on child abuse are staggering. According to The Department of Health and Human Services, in 2016, approximately 1750 children in the US died of abuse and neglect. Of the children who died, 70 percent were under the age of three. The highest rate of victimization occurred in children during their first year of life.
Reports of possible child abuse/neglect were reported 64.9% of the time by professionals, including teachers, police officers, social workers. Non-professionals made reports 18.1% of the time, and this includes neighbors, family members, and friends. 17.0% of reports came from anonymous or unclassified sources. The value of these reports is undeniable and shows us that we, as individuals can have a huge impact on preventing child abuse. According to Child Welfare Information Gateway, there are many signs to look for in regard to possible child abuse and neglect. Some of the most obvious ones are:
-Frequent bruising, bites, broken bones, or other physical signs
-A reluctance to go home
-An obvious fear of being around one’s parent(s)
-Child seems inappropriately sexualized for his/her age
-Child is abusive to animals
-Child seems withdrawn and depressed
-Child is delayed in physical or emotional development
-Parent is always saying harsh things about child
-Parent has substance abuse issues
-Little affection or positive interaction between parent and child
These are just a few of the signs to look for. There are many more listed here.
If you suspect child abuse, it is important that you report it. You can do so anonymously if you like. In doing so, you might be saving the life of a child.
Please connect with us if you or someone you love has suffered from abuse or neglect. We are trained in various counseling techniques that can help you move toward healing.