Can You Prevent Child Abuse? – April is National Child Abuse Awareness Month

 

Can you prevent child abuse? The answer is YES you can. When children grow up in a loving and nurturing environment, they grow into happy and well-adjusted adults.

So you ask, What can I do? I am not abusing children. Remember the old adage, It takes a village to raise a child. Well, this is still true today. It takes all of us to understand the issued and know what to do to help.

Why should you help? First of course is it protects the child, but it also protects society in general. These children today are our future. They will determine the path our society takes. Child abuse has many negative impacts that affect all of us. Please click on the link below to watch a short video trailer from the Child Welfare Information Gateway.

Building Community, Building Hope

Child Abuse Statistics in the United States

These statistics come from the childwelfare.gov site. This is our national department that is responsible for protecting our children and helping families.

The most recent year that national statistics were gathered was 2016. Approximately 4.1 million reports were made to child protective services. This represents approximately 7.4 million children. These numbers are staggering and shocking.

Child Abuse Awareness RibbonAs a result of the above reports, it is estimated that 676,000 (unique count – defined as counting each child once regardless of the number of reports for that child) were found to be victims of child abuse or neglect. Keep in mind that these numbers are only for actual reports made. How many go unreported?

Of the 676,000 children, 74.8% were neglected, 18.2% were physically abused, and 8.5% were sexually abused. The most tragic result of abuse is child deaths. An estimated 1,750 children died due to abuse and/or neglect.

What Happens When A Child Is Abused?

Perhaps you have read an article in the newspaper or heard a story on the radio about child abuse. You are horrified for the 10 – 15 minutes it takes to read or listen. Then you turn to the next page or click off the radio to go into work. The story is filed and forgotten amongst our daily lives. But, what happens to that child? How does this affect him/her? How does this affect YOU?

The stress of abuse trauma actually changes the brain. The physical brain begins to look different. The child begins to react differently. Fear becomes a daily occurrence. This fear is overwhelming and even irrational at times. It creates a survival mode thinking.

The child then develops an inability to trust others. Their sense of safety is gone. They do not learn how to effectively navigate life which leaves them emotionally unstable. These negative effects often last a lifetime. These changes in the child are associated with increased risks.

    • Depression and suicide attempts.
    • Substance abuse
    • Developmental and learning disabilities
    • Social problems with children and adults
    • Teen pregnancy
    • Lack of success in school
    • Domestic violence
    • Chronic illnesses
    • Increased need of community programs ex.. law enforcement, medical and mental health, judicial, social services.
      • Child Abuse and NeglectThe list is almost endless. This impacts our entire community. The CDC estimates that the cost for one year nationally spent is $124 billion. The focus needs to be on reducing abuse and saving the children. But you also need to understand that you live with the above victims. Their reactions, problems, and lack of care affect you and your families.

        What Can You Do If You Suspect Child Abuse or Neglect?

        First and ALWAYS report it! Call the police or your local child welfare agency. You can get a list of reporting numbers at: Child Welfare Reporting Numbers

        Educate yourself and be prepared to recognize the signs and symptoms. Below are a few books and articles you might want to check out. These are just a few. You can google child abuse to get all kinds of resources and info.

        The Child Abuse Story of the Decade

        How To Identify Sexual Abuse In Children

        CDC Child Abuse Prevention

        Help Guide

        Ways to Prevent Child Abuse

        Recognize the signs and symptoms of abuse. Are you worried that you are crossing the line sometimes? We all do. Our daily life stresses can often make us less tolerant. Get help if you are. Go to a therapist or look online for agencies that can help.

        STOP judging others and become part of the solution rather than part of the problem. Get involved in

        your community. Be aware of the families and children that you come in contact with. Reach out a hand to a parent that is overwhelmed and stressed. Volunteer for a local organization. CASA programs always need volunteers, and this is a great way to have an impact for the children.Child Abuse Broken Mirror

        Help out at a local food bank. Donate items to organizations like Goodwill, Amvets, Homeless shelters, etc.

        Teach your children and family members. Get everyone involved. Your children may be the first in your family to come in contact with an abused or neglected child. Children will often tell other children before adults. Teach your child to tell a trusted adult. Explain why it is so important to help those that cannot help themselves.

        Show others compassion and understanding. We all have problems in our lives that we need help with. We are often hesitant and scared to ask for help. It is embarrassing. Don’t be the one that looks away. Reach out. A simple listening ear can help someone that is overwhelmed, abused, neglected, or stressed.

        Child abuse and neglect is a family and a community problem. We must treat the whole family to treat the child. The answer is not as simple as just removing the child from the environment. We need to help alleviate the stresses in the family before we can be successful in treating the problem.

        Child Abuse At The End Of The Day

        We are all responsible for reducing child abuse and neglect. Remember some of the effects we talked about earlier. Your children will go to school with these children. You and your family will live near these children. One of these children could be in your own family. Your community will live the effects of these children. Our future leaders will be these children.

        • Depression and suicide attempts.
        • Substance abuse
        • Developmental and learning disabilities
        • Social problems with children and adults
        • Teen pregnancy
        • Lack of success in school
        • Domestic violence
        • Chronic illnesses
        • Increased need of community programs ex.. law enforcement, medical and mental health, judicial, social services.

Reaching HandsSubstance abuse in our society has long-lasting effects. We see violence and crimes such as theft increase.

Depression and suicide touches every life it comes in contact with. Depression makes us irritable and unable to cope with daily life. Depression overshadows all of our interactions with others.

Increased need for community services increases our community spending and budgets. The taxes we all pay increase to offset this.

Teen pregnancy continues the risk of abuse. Teen parents are not yet mature enough to be responsible for another. If that teen parent was abused or neglected the risk increases exponentially.

When you get involved in your community, you make your world a better place for you, your family, and all of us. It is like the ripple effect when you throw a pebble in a pond. The rings move outward and get bigger and bigger.

BE THAT PEBBLE!

Please leave us a comment. Share your thoughts and stories.