This month is dedicated to raising awareness of child abuse
Child abuse is all too common, with reports coming in every 10 seconds nationwide. It takes place at every socioeconomic level, across all ethnic and cultural lines, within all regions, and all levels of education. Child abuse does not discriminate. Fortunately it is 100% preventable. In order to reduce child abuse, spreading awareness and education are key. This not only aims to reduce child abuse, but can also reduce the cycle in which 30% of abused and neglected children go on to abuse their own children.
April is dedicated to spreading awareness about child abuse. Awareness starts by understanding the different types of child abuse, which include: physical, sexual, neglect, mental, or even a likelihood of physical or sexual abuse. This last example pertains to situations where children may be exposed to dangerous situations. An example would be a vulnerable child left unattended in the house for hours on end, but not injured; however, the likelihood of getting injured in the future is more probable than not if this continues to occur. General protective types of abuse are also considered, which involve things like parent substance abuse, truancy, or inappropriate discipline.
There are a variety of signs that could indicate child abuse is occurring, though symptoms vary from child to child, and some children may even mask or hide any warning signs. Some common warning signs are unexplained bruises, welts, bite marks, bald spots, marks in various stages of healing, extreme behaviors, and fear of going home. There are plenty of other signs that can be viewed here on the end of the child or the parent/caregiver doing the abusing. These are extremely important to review and keep an eye out for, especially with recurring patterns. At the same time, we need to remember that kids may naturally acquire bumps and bruises through child play, which may not represent abuse. Sometimes consulting with another peer or colleague can be helpful when trying to detect suspected abuse.
As a responsible adult, it is imperative that action be taken when abuse is suspected. You do not have to be a mandated reporter to call Child Protective Services or General Protective Services. It is helpful, though, for you to have certain information available to make a solid report. This information includes:
· Child’s name
· Anyone else living in the home
· Any involved persons who know the child (or could be involved with the abuse)
· When the abuse happened
· Where the abuse happened
· How long the abuse happened
· Current safety of the child
· Demographic information (e.g. child’s address, phone number, age, birthday, school, grade, special needs, etc.)
Although all of this information is not required, the more information available, the easier it is for county workers and case managers to follow-up with the child’s situation. Typically, the intake worker who receives the report will ask questions in six domains: nature of maltreatment, circumstance surrounding the maltreatment, child functioning, adult functioning, general parenting practices, and discipline style. Additional questions may be asked regarding the child’s home environment and dangers to the child or workers (e.g. weapons, dangerous weapons, access of the alleged perpetrator to the child). Even if you are not sure whether to call, or whether a certain behavior would constitute as abuse, it is better to call and confirm with an intake worker than to risk other serious behaviors occurring.
To report abuse, call the child abuse hotline: 1-800-932-0313 (24 hours/ day). If you want to call a county worker directly, call 570-724-5766. If the child is at immediate risk of injury, call the police. Finally, mandated reporters can also access a report form online (as opposed to calling in a report) at: www.keepkidssafe.pa.gov.
Outside of reporting, if you want to be involved in reducing child abuse, there are a number of ways you can help! You can volunteer to take part in community activities that serve children. If you have experience caring for children, offer to watch your friends’, family, and neighbors’ children when they need a break or seem frustrated. Another way to serve is to reduce or prevent isolated one-on-one situations between children and adults or older youth to help reduce the risk of abuse. You can learn more about how to help through various resources available to you: http://faceitabuse.org/.
As a final note, the Tioga County Department of Family Services is putting together a Child Abuse Prevention Fair on April 28th on the Green. The fair kicks off with a Super Hero run at 9 am. Then from 11-2 pm, events on the Green include many booths with activities for children to do, including a bounce house. Additional resources will be available to parents, caregivers, mandated reporters, and other community members who want to learn more about child abuse prevention. For more information on April’s Child Abuse Prevention activities, check out the Facebook page here. Don’t forget to wear your blue. We hope to see you at the fair!
Idea/Concept: Dr. Nicolle Mayo
Videography: Kaitlyn Callahan, Andrew Moore
Video Editing: Kaitlyn Callahan
Writing: Dr. Mayo
Anchor: Dr. Mayo
Produced by Vogt Media
Funded by First Citizens Community Bank, Akiko’s Floral Arts