Child Abuse: Your Toolbox to Save a Life

April… National Child Abuse Prevention Month. Raising Awareness to Save Lives

In the United States, over four children die from child abuse or neglect daily.Approximately 70% of these victims are below the age of three (“11 Facts About Child Abuse“.) These events will alter the outcome of survivor’s lives. Many victims of childhood abuse fall victim to psychological disorders, continued abuse, and even criminal activity. Abuse seems to latch onto its victims and hold on; feeding off of every memory, success, and mile stone.

For most of society, the site or knowledge of a child feeling any pain or suffering is simply unbearable. It’s an adults instinct to run towards to crying baby, take all the pain away, or chase away whatever startles a precious young soul.

Unfortunately, child abuse is a national epidemic that isn’t talked about nearly enough. The key to helping children in these unthinkable circumstances, is having cognizant, informed adults. Adults that aren’t afraid to stand up for what is right. Adults who have the tools and information needed to save a life.

Intervention is Vital

The list of why intervention of child abuse is so vitally important is truly never ending. As a mandated reported at a Medical Clinic, I’ve heard all the excuses in the book from adults showing hesitation in filing a Child Protective Services Report. The most common is “I want to be positive its child abuse before I get the family in trouble.”

Here’s the reality. There are many forms of child abuse such a malnutrition, neglect, poor living conditions, and even sexual abuse. Often, these forms of abuse don’t show immediate physical signs such as cuts and bruises.

Signs children are falling victim to abuse can be detected in some of the most hidden red flags. A child could be significantly behind in school, or be socially detached from their peers. They can be presenting with low self esteem, consistent shame or guilt, or develop a speech disorder. They could show emotional signs such as panic and anxiety. It’s even important to note the child’s behavior around their family or guardians.

Reporting suspicious situations isn’t whistle blowing by any means. Even if abuse isn’t present with the symptoms a child is showing, making a Child Protective Services Report is simply bringing to attention a concern that needs to be looked into. This report prompts the appropriate individuals to step in and answer to whatever the problem at home may be. Who knows, you could be saving a life.

Your Reporting Tool Box

The signs are there… now what? Following these easy steps from The Child Abuse Prevention Center will supply you with everything you need to notify the proper authorities.

  1. First and foremost! If you believe the child is in immediate, or life threatening danger, don’t waist any time. Call 9–1–1!
  2. Remain Calm! The best thing for a child in this frightening situation is to be provided with adults that use a combination of grace, love, and the appropriate channels to provide them with support and safety.
  3. Immediately call your counties Child Protective Services Agency (CPS) and make a verbal report. Click HERE to find the local CPS agency in your California county. If you don’t see your county on this list, a quick Google search will provide you with everything you need.
  4. Follow up by sending in your written CPS report to your county’s CPS center within 36 hours. (Be sure to verify where you are sending your written report during your immediate phone call with CPS, after you’ve given your verbal report.)

Following this procedure will prompt the needed investigation. According to The California Child Abuse and Neglect Reporting Law, your report will remain completely confidential to protect both you and the victim.

Raising Awareness

As I mentioned before, April is National Child Abuse Prevention Month. Here are some ways that you can raise awareness about child abuse.

  • Get Talking. Even though this seems like a difficult subject to discuss over dinner, the more you talk about it, the easier it will be. Finding age appropriate ways to talk to your family and children about abuse can raise a well informed generation. Natasha Daniels of The Child Mind Institute talks about some great ways to keep your kids informed.
  • Community Events. Creating awareness throughout the community is a great way to build a united front. There are many ideas such as involving your kids in fundraisers, and community art projects to create awareness. You can even facilitate a “wear blue day” to get your community on the same page.
  • The Pinwheel Garden Challenge. Companies and families around the United States are starting their own Pinwheel Garden Challenge. This challenge encourages individuals to create beautiful pinwheel gardens to raise awareness for child abuse. Community members are encouraged to add pinwheels to existing gardens, or even start a garden of their own. Pictures have been posted through news stations and social media to encourage community involvement.
Photo By: Katrina Hickey; Tule House, Lake County, CA

Raising awareness is only the beginning in the fight against child abuse and neglect. Share this story to help get your community involved, and to give people the tools to save a young life.

Resources:

“Child Abuse and Neglect Reporting Hotlines”. www.thecapcenter.org. Accessed 10 Apr. 2019.

Daniels, Natasha. “10 Ways to Teach Your Child the Skills to Prevent Sexual Abuse”. www.childmind.org. Accessed 10 Apr. 2019

“Signs of Abuse and Child Neglect”. www.arkofhopeforchildren.org. Accessed 10 Apr. 2019.

“11 Facts About Child Abuse”. www.dosomething.org. Accessed 10 Apr. 2019.