April is Child Abuse Awareness and Prevention Month

April 19, 2018

Every child should have a safe childhood free of violence and abuse. April, Child Abuse Awareness and Prevention Month, is dedicated to bringing citizens together to gain more awareness about child abuse and prevention. It is important for the community to gather together to discuss current issues and how to prevent future children from abusive situations.

A few statistics associated with child abuse include the following:

  • A report of child abuse is made every 10 seconds.
  • 368 Kerr County children were affected by abuse and neglect last year.
  • 91% of child abuse perpetrators are parents.
  • 77% of child fatalities involve one parent.
  • U.S. child protective services referrals involve 7.2 million children every year.
  • In the U.S., 4 to 5 children die from child abuse or neglect every day., making this one of the worst records among industrialized nations.
  • 75% of children who die of abuse and neglect are under the age of 3.
  • 80% of 21-year-olds who reported childhood abuse suffer from at least one psychological disorder.

Abuse can appear in forms such as physical, sexual, and mental. Abuse can be determined by observing children and looking for the following signs:

Physical

  • Scrapes and cuts
  • Bruises and welts
  • Burn marks
  • Head trauma
  • Weakened brain development
  • Sprains or broken bones
  • Difficulty walking or sitting
  • Torn, stained, or bloody clothing

Sexual

  • Pain or itching in the genital area
  • Bruises or bleeding in and around the genital area
  • Sexually transmitted diseases
  • Inappropriate dress
  • Poor hygiene
  • Poor physical health

Psychological

  • Anxiety
  • Depression
  • Low self-esteem
  • Withdrawn
  • Dissociation
  • Difficulty with making and maintaining relationships
  • Experiences flashbacks
  • Hypervigilant
  • Persistent fear

Being a victim of abuse can result in behavior and developmental issues. Here are a few signs to look for:

Behavior

  • Self-harm
  • Eating disorders
  • Alcohol and drug use
  • Trouble sleeping
  • Uncomfortable with physical contact with others
  • Repeating school grades
  • Absent from school often
  • Criminal activity

Developmental signs

  • Failure to thrive socially or academically
  • Uncomfortable with physical contact with others
  • Slowed physical, emotional, or intellectual development
  • Learning disorders
  • Speech disorders

Witnessing abuse as a child can also cause the child to be affected causing anxiety, depression, academic problems and fearful behavior.

If you witness or hear of a child in an abusive situation, call the police or a child protective services organization. To make the process easier, provide the information below:

  • names of victims and offenders and their ages
  • parent’s names and phone numbers
  • home address where the victim lives, the school where the victim attends, home phone numbers
  • any witnesses related to the abuse
  • dates when the abuse occurred (if known)
  • location(s) where the abuse occurred
  • a brief summary of what you experienced, saw or heard as to the reasons for your concerns, which would include the outcry disclosure of abuse from the victim
  • knowledge of the child being afraid to go home (if the abuse happened there)

Those who report abuse are protected by confidentiality through DFPS, Law Enforcement, and Child Advocacy Centers across the state and nation.

To report child abuse contact the National Child Abuse Hotline at 1-800-422-4453 or Department of Family Protective Services at 1-800-252-5400 or go to the online website at Report Child Abuse.

By the community coming together to advocate for abused children, maybe we can make a difference in current and future abuse occurrences. Help spread the awareness and information regarding child abuse prevention.

This information is provided by Joyful Heart Foundation, ChildHelp, and Kerrville’s Kids’ Advocacy Place.