Stop the Hurting – A Guide to Child Abuse Prevention
According to Childhelp, over 3 million cases of child abuse are reported each year, with a child abuse report being made every ten seconds. Abuse can be physical, sexual, mental, or a combination of all three types of abuse. Many therapists and child experts consider child abuse one of the leading causes of future drug and alcohol problems and the leading cause of a cycle of abuse as abused children grow up to abuse their own children. Teachers and other professionals responsible for the care of children are trained on how to identify and report abuse. For the average person, there are signs to look for and steps to take when child abuse is suspected.
Child Abuse Prevention Month
Child abuse prevention month stems from a national child abuse prevention week that started in 1982. By 1983, child abuse prevention month took the place of child abuse prevention week. April is the month designated for child abuse prevention awareness and education. The symbol during child abuse prevention month is the blue ribbon. Originally displayed by a grandmother who lost her grandchild to child abuse, the blue ribbon is now a well-known symbol seen during the month of April. During the month, organizations and political figureheads make proclamations and provide education about child abuse.
Child Abuse Statistics
On average, five children die everyday due to abuse. Of those children, the majority are younger than four years old. While some people may believe certain classes of people are the main perpetrators of child abuse, this crime happens among all races and socioeconomic levels. No matter the race, economic status, or religion, 30 percent of abused children will grow up to abuse their own children.
80 percent of abused children grow up with at least one diagnosable psychiatric disorder. These mental issues can cause eating disorders, depression, and traumatic stress disorders. Due to the repercussions of child abuse, thirty percent of abused children will grow up to commit a violent crime and end up in jail. In fact, 59 percent of abused children will end up in jail as juveniles.
What Are the Signs of Child Abuse?
Physical abuse consists of a variety of actions that constitute abuse. Anyone who shakes a baby, breaks a child’s bone, burns a child, leaves welts or bruises on a child, or causes a child to stop breathing is committing the act of the child abuse. Physical abuse signs are easier to detect than emotional and sexual abuse. Physically abused children may show signs of bruising, have areas tender to touch, frequent sprains or broken bones. Physically abused children may also be withdrawn, shy away from physical contact, and appear dirty or neglected.
Sexually abused children may show inappropriate sexual behaviors towards peers or older people. Children may cry when going to the bathroom and be afraid to let anyone see or get near their private area. Sexually abused children may also take part in destructive behavior, especially if they are teens. Concerned adults should also look for stained underclothing, ripped clothing, and any signs of an STD or pregnancy in girls.
Emotional abuse is hard to detect because it doesn’t leave physical marks. However, emotional abuse can be just as damaging to a child as physical abuse. A child who is emotionally abused may be withdrawn or overly attentive to smaller children. They may also use inappropriate words and behaviors to express certain feelings. Feelings of fear when doing something wrong or making mistakes are also a sign of emotional abuse.
What Do I Do if I Suspect a Child is Being Abused?
Teachers and other professionals that deal with children are required by law to report suspected cases of child abuse. Anyone else who suspects child abuse should also report it to the qualifying agency. Each state has its own department of child and family services, which is usually the agency that handles child abuse complaints. There are also national hot lines that will take child abuse complaints and direct the information to the correct agency. In the event of an emergency, calling 911 will get immediate help for a child being abused.
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