A report of child abuse is made every 10 seconds in the U.S. In total, an estimated 3 million cases of child abuse are reported every year, but experts fear that the actual number of cases is actually three times greater.
It’s a sobering thought. While so many of us are striving to give our little ones love and affection and working to meet all their needs and more, countless children are left to wonder what they did to deserve their bruises and emotional scars.
The definitions for child abuse and neglect can vary from state to state, but at the very minimum follow the guidelines set forth by the Child Abuse Prevention and Treatment Act (CAPTA) legislation, which reads:
“Any recent act or failure to act on the part of the parent or caretaker, which results in death, serious physical or emotional harm, sexual abuse, or exploitation, or an act or failure to act which presents imminent risk of serious harm.”
Did you know that an estimated four children die every day in the U.S. due to child abuse? And that three out of four of these victims are under the age of 4? According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, child maltreatment fatalities continue to remain a serious problem, despite the efforts of the child protection system.
Did you also know that in the U.S. …
Recognizing child abuse or neglect
There are different types of child abuse and neglect—physical abuse, neglect, sexual abuse, and emotional abuse. A child who is abused in one way is likely to be abused in more than one way. The Child Welfare Information Gateway offers the following tips for recognizing signs of child abuse or neglect.
Does the child:
Does the parent:
Preventing child abuse
Perhaps the toughest part of putting an end to child abuse is our collective resistance to butt into other people’s affairs. Maybe your neighbor spanks their child for the smallest of transgressions. Or perhaps you have witnessed a harried parent yanking a screaming toddler out of a grocery store by their arm. Or maybe your child has mentioned a classmate who always seems to be showing up at school with bumps or bruises that can’t be explained.
When do you speak up? How do you speak up?
If you suspect abuse or neglect, report it to your local social services department. Call the police immediately if you believe a child is in immediate danger, says Prevent Child Abuse (PCA).
But, and perhaps more importantly, try to look beyond the headlines. Instead, try to focus your attention on ways you can actively take part in reducing the incidence of child abuse, by reducing the stress in your community that can lead to abuse and neglect. Ways of reducing stress include:
However you decide to reach out, take heart and remember that child abuse prevention is a year-round effort.
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