April is Child Abuse Prevention Month.
This month is dedicated to increasing public understanding that child abuse and neglect occurs throughout our community, that children we know may be at risk. It’s a month for individuals to learn how to protect the children who touch their lives, how to recognize signs of abuse, and how to report suspected abuse so victimized children can be helped.
COVID-19 has altered daily life for all of us over the past year and its continuing impact creates special concerns for child victims of abuse:
- Most child abuse happens at home. 88% of all child abuse is perpetrated by a parent, parent’s partner, or relative. During this pandemic especially, not every child is safe while at home.
- Normally, community professionals report most abuse. Fully two-thirds of child abuse reports are made by teachers, counselors, doctors, and others. For more than a year, many of these people have not been in regular, face-to-face contact with kids.
- Because of a drop in reporting, many kids haven’t gotten help. Nationally, as many as 40,000 fewer children received services in the first half of 2020 compared to 2019.
During these challenging times,
YOU may be the best chance a child has at safety.
We encourage you to watch over the children near you – in your family, your neighborhood, your wider community. Learn the signs of abuse and, if you suspect a child is being abused or neglected, report to Childline at 1-800-932-0313. If a child appears to be in immediate danger, call 911 for emergency help.
10 Signs of Child Abuse
- Unexplained injuries - Visible signs of physical abuse may include unexplained burns or bruises in the shape of objects. You may also hear unconvincing explanations for a child’s injuries.
- Changes in behavior - Abuse can lead to many changes in a child’s behavior. Abused children often appear scared, anxious, depressed, withdrawn, or more aggressive.
- Returning to earlier behaviors - Abused children may display behaviors shown at earlier ages, such as thumb-sucking, bed-wetting, fear of the dark or strangers. For some children, even loss of acquired language or memory problems may be an issue.
- Fear of going home - Abused children may express apprehension or anxiety about leaving school or about going places with the person who is abusing them.
- Changes in eating - The stress, fear and anxiety caused by abuse can lead to changes in a child’s eating behaviors, which may result in weight gain or loss.
- Changes in sleeping - Abused children may have frequent nightmares or have difficulty falling asleep, and as a result may appear tired or fatigued.
- Changes in school performance and attendance - Abused children may have difficulty concentrating in school or have excessive absences, sometimes due to adults trying to hide the child’s injuries from authorities.
- Lack of personal care or hygiene - Abused and neglected children may appear uncared for. They may be consistently dirty and have severe body odor, or they may lack appropriate clothing for the weather.
- Risk-taking behaviors - Young people who are being abused may engage in high-risk activities such as using drugs or alcohol or carrying a weapon.
- Inappropriate sexual behaviors - Children who have been sexually abused may exhibit overly sexualized behavior or use explicit sexual language.
Child abuse thrives when good people decide
it’s none of their business.