April is Child Abuse Awareness Month
“It takes a village to raise a child”, African Proverb
Imagine if we lived in a world where everyone knew the signs of child abuse and knew what to do to protect children they believe are in danger. We could read the news and watch the newscasts without flinching.
The first Federal legislation to protect children from abuse a
nd neglect, the Child Abuse Prevention and Treatment Act (CAPTA), was passed in 1974. In the early 1980's, Congress took further steps toward identifying and preventing child abuse and recognized the first Child Abuse Prevention Week, in June of 1982. In 1983, April was designated as National Child Abuse Prevention Month. Since those early days, the focus on recognition and prevention has widened to include promoting healthy parenting and strong families through education and community support.
In 2010, Nevada received the grade report of D in Health, a D in Safety and Security, an F in Education and in Teen Years (includes Teen Birth Rate, Teen Suicides, Alcohol, Tobacco, Drugs. For a copy of this report card, please email firstname.lastname@example.org
Of all victims of violence, children are some of the most vulnerable. United community response is essential in preventing the perpetration of child abuse and in facilitating the healing process. April is National Child Abuse Prevention Month and the right time to start the conversation in your community. The price of silence is simply too high. By rallying corporations, communities, schools and families, we can make a difference in the lives of children across the country. By promoting safety, awareness and dialogue, we will shed the light of hope for countless children.
How can you tell if a child may be abused? Here are some basic signs:
• bruises or broken bones on children not yet old enough to walk • unexplained bruises, burns or cuts • bald spots • fear of adults, especially parents • fear of physical contact • risk-taking • destructiveness toward self or others • acting like a much younger child • poor social skills • aggression • defiance • clothing that may be inappropriate for warmer months to cover marks Signs of sexual abuse may include: • secretiveness or refusal to undress in front of others • unusual interest in or knowledge of sexual things • inappropriate displays of affection • fear of a particular person or family member • depression or withdrawal • over-compliance • aggression • poor social skills • poor school performance • pain during urination • difficulty in walking or sitting • frequent vomiting • genital or anal itching, rashes, bruising, bleeding or pain • frequent yeast or urinary tract infections • wetting pants or bed Signs of emotional abuse may include: • delay in physical or social development • speech, sleep or eating disorders • repetitive actions, such as rocking, sucking or biting • lack of concentration • lack of emotion • lack of interest in things that child used to enjoy • increased emotional needs • depression or withdrawal • aggression • wetting pants or bed Signs of neglect may include: • clothing that is dirty, torn, poorly fitting or inappropriate for the weather • sleepiness • poor hygiene • untreated medical or dental problems • hoarding or stealing food • inappropriate responsibility for younger siblings • apparent lack of supervision • frequent lateness or absences from school or other activities • destructive behavior, i.e. hurting him or herself or others • low self-esteem • poor social skills • learning disabilities or lower mental ability than normal for age If a child tells you about abuse, know what to do. • Do not act shocked – instead remain calm and accepting. Reassure the child that you believe him or her. Say that he or she did the right thing by telling you. • Tell the child that the abuse is not his or her fault, but do not speak negatively about the abusive adult. • Do not promise to keep the child’s disclosure a secret – let the child know that to provide help, you will have to tell another trusted adult. • Tell the child what you will try to do to help, and what he or she may expect. • Assure the child that things may be difficult at first, but will get better – don’t promise that the abuse will stop. • If a child tells you about sexual abuse right after it happens, do not bathe the child or change his or her clothes. • If you are worried about a child’s immediate safety or if the child is afraid to go home, call 9-1-1 or DCFS. Do not take the child home with you
Some signs that a child is experiencing violence or abuse are more obvious than others. Trust your instincts. Suspected abuse is enough of a reason to contact the authorities.
What can you, as individuals do? Get involved! Advocates for Victims of Abuse has teamed up with the Sixth Judicial District to implement a Court Appointed Special Advocates program, volunteer now!
For more information: www.casaforchildren.com www.childrensadvocacyalliance.com www.childwelfare.gov www.dcfs.state.nv.us/DCFS_ReportSuspectedChildAbuse.htm www.itsuptoyou.org www.nevadachildseekers.com