April is National Child Abuse Prevention Month; a time were national attention is made to bring awareness to the prevention of child abuse and neglect. According to the National Statistics on Child Abuse, nearly 700,000 children are abused in the U.S. annually and over 3 million children receive an investigation or response from Child Protective Services.
Child abuse and neglect are identified by most States as physical abuse, neglect, sexual abuse, exploitation, and emotional abuse. Some States recognize abandonment and parental substance abuse as a form of abuse and neglect. The first steps to helping abused and neglected children is learning to identify and recognize the warning signs. Some signs of child abuse and neglect are, but not limited to:
- Sudden changes in the child’s behavior.
- Medical issues have not been addressed
- Learning problems that are not attributed to any physical or physiological issue
- Lack of adult supervision
- Unexplained bruises or injuries
- Abuses pet or other animals
- Seem frightened or jumpy around parents
- Frequent absences from school
- Stealing or begging for food and/or money
- Difficulties walking or sitting
- Sudden changes in appetite
- Refuses to change for gym
- Running away from home
- Lacks parental attachment
- Quick attachment to strangers
- Developmentally delayed
- Parent express their dislike or lack of concern for the child’s well-being
- Lacks sufficient clothing for the weather.
To protect children from the risk of abuse and neglect, families will need to be supported and educated, while increasing public awareness and implementing prevention programs. This can be obtained through the support and action from State/Local government and community involvement.
If you suspect abused and/or neglect of a child, contact the local Child Protective Services agency at 1-800-252-5400. Your call can be anonymous. Making the call can save the life of a child!
Written by – Kim Holmes- Therapist