Child abuse is a growing public health issue. The few cases of abuse or neglect which appear in the press are only a small part of this pressing public health issue. Many child abuse cases are not reported to police or social service agencies. What we do know about the prevalence of child abuse is as follows:
• 1,740 children died in the United States in 2008 from abuse and neglect.1
• 772,000 children were found to be victims of maltreatment by child protective services in 2008.1
Recognizing the alarming rate at which children are abused and neglected, the need for innovative programs to prevent child abuse, and the importance of assisting families affected by maltreatment, the month of April was designated at National Child Abuse Prevention Month in 1983 by Presidential Proclamation. Since then, child abuse and neglect awareness activities have been promoted across the country.
With the goal of strengthening families, child abuse and neglect awareness activities are promoted across the country during April. In April, communities should seize the opportunity to help keep children safe, provide the requisite support families need to stay together, and raise children and youth to be happy, secure, and stable adults. The Child Welfare League (CWLA) gives guidance on activities that each of us can take to help prevent child abuse and neglect. Here is CWLA’s list of ten actions that we can take to help prevent child abuse.
Ten Things You Can Do to Help Prevent Child Abuse
Volunteer your time. After-school activities, parent education classes, mentoring programs, and respite care are some of the many ways to keep children safe from harm. Be a voice in support of these efforts in your community.
Discipline your children thoughtfully. Remember that discipline is a way to teach your child. Use privileges to encourage good behavior and time-outs to help your child regain control. Both words and actions can inflict deep, lasting wounds.
Support prevention programs. Know what child abuse is, and what the signs are. Physical and sexual abuse clearly constitute maltreatment, but so does neglect, or the failure of parents or other caregivers to provide a child with needed food, clothing, and care. Children can also be emotionally abused when they are rejected, berated, or continuously isolated.
Report abuse. If you witness a child being harmed or see evidence of abuse, or if a child tells you about abuse, make a report to your state’s child protective services department or local police.
Invest in kids. Encourage leaders in the community to be supportive of children and families. Ask employers to provide family-friendly work environments. Ask your local and national lawmakers to support legislation to better protect our children and to improve their lives.
Write, visit, fax, phone, or e-mail your elected officials.
Participate in ceremonies to memorialize children. Read the names of children lost to violence in your state, hold a candlelight vigil, or host an event at your state capital to remember those children who were lost to violence.
Raise public awareness.”—CWLA
To report an instance of child abuse or get help, contact the National Child Abuse Hotline at 1-800-4-A-CHILD .1-800-4-A-CHILD . (1-800-422-4453. 1-800-422-4453).
For further information on child maltreatment, you can visit any of the following websites:
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention:www.cdc.gov/injury.
Children’s Bureau, Administration for Children and Families: www.acf.hhs.gov/programs/cb
Child Welfare Information Gateway:www.childwelfare.gov
FRIENDS National Resource Center: www.friendsnrc.org
National Scientific Council on the Developing Child: www.developingchild.net
1. Department of Health and Human Services, Administration on Children, Youth, and Families. Child Maltreatment 2008 [online]. Washington (DC): Government Printing Office; 2010. [cited 2010 Apr 8]. Available from: http://www.acf.hhs.gov.
Sources: Children’s Bureau, Administration for Children and Families, Child Welfare League of America, Center for Disease Control & Prevention, National Child Abuse Hotline, Child Welfare Information Gateway, FRIENDS National Resource Center, and the National Scientific Council on the Developing Child.
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