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April Is National Child Abuse Prevention Month – How You Can Help

by John Gomez | Last Updated: April 3, 2017
Child Abuse Prevention

Few things are as damaging to a person’s long-term prospects in life as being abused as a child.  Child abuse is a type of harm that continually inflicts damage on its targets in some way, shape or form.  Everyone who is a member of any society should have an interest in contributing to child abuse prevention.  Every child saved from this terrible situation has a better chance to experience a healthy and happy life.  Sadly, chances are that at least one child somehow connected to your life has been or is being abused.  The child abuse lawyers at Gomez Trial Attorneys would like to help everyone engage in active child abuse prevention by providing two powerful weapons useful in this worthy fight: knowledge and awareness.  Putting these two tools to use is the best way any individual can help save a child or children.

Child Abuse Statistics In the United States

The United States Department of Health and Human Services publishes regular reports on child abuse.  The most recent information comes from 2015.  The report included the following statistics from that year and from 2014 for the sake of comparison:

  • Authorities in all of the states combined received 4 million child abuse referrals in 2015.
  • That represents a climb of 400,000 referrals from 2014.
  • The number of children involved in these referrals in 2015 was 7.2 million.
  • That represents an increase in total children of 600,000 from 2014.
  • 1,670 children died in 2015 as a result of abuse and neglect.
  • 1,580 children died in 2014 as a result of abuse and neglect.

Those who would like to review the entire report can find it here.  The reason that there are more children than referrals is because many reports involve more than one child.  When breaking this down further, the result is that more than four children die every day in the United States because of abuse or neglect.

The report also breaks down who is filing the reports of child abuse.  That information appears below in the form of percentages of total child abuse reports filed:

  • Education personnel – 18.4 percent of reports
  • Legal and law enforcement personnel – 18.2 percent of reports
  • Social services personnel – 10.9 percent of reports
  • Anonymous sources – 7.4 percent of reports
  • Parents – 6.8 percent of reports
  • Other relatives – 6.8 percent of reports
  • Mental health personnel – 5.8 percent of reports
  • Friends and neighbors – 4.2 percent of reports
  • Child daycare providers – 0.6 percent of reports
  • Alleged victims – 0.4 percent of reports

Overall, professionals submit nearly two-thirds of all of the reports of child abuse in the United States.  Family members submit less than 15 percent to authorities.

Common Causes of Child Abuse

An important early step towards child abuse prevention is obtaining an understanding of its common causes.  The Family Resource Center is a non-profit organization that works tirelessly to bring about awareness with regards to child abuse in hopes of preventing it.  It was established in 1974, the same year that the Child Abuse Prevention and Treatment Act (CAPTA) was enacted into law by the federal government.  The Family Resource Center is based in St. Louis and it has provided some information regarding common causes of child abuse.  They appear below along with brief explanations:

  • Intergenerational transmission of violence – Children who grow up in abusive environments are much more likely to become abusive parents.  Studies show that approximately 30 percent of abused children become abusive parents compared to only about 3 percent of the general population.
  • Social stress – Everyone isn’t happy with their standing in society.  Some people feel as though their housing is inadequate, their finances are not in order or they are unemployed or underemployed.  Any of these factors can increase the possibility of abuse.
  • Social isolation – People who tend to be separated from a community tend to be more likely to abuse their children.  That’s because people in these situations tend to not see the example brought about by the community and they are less likely to be reported by others.
  • Family structure – Several different types of family structures tend to increase the possibility that child abuse is occurring or will occur.  For instance, families where one person dominates all decisions, families with chronic marital discord or families with abusive spouses tend to have higher rates of child abuse.

Warning Signs of Child Abuse

As stated above, most of us come into some sort of contact with children every day.  Therefore, it is up to all of us to recognize how prevalent child abuse is in the United States, what tends to cause it and of course the warning signs of child abuse. Stanford University has published a list of warning signs, and those who would like to review it in totality can find it here.  A few examples of warning signs of child abuse include:

  • Fear/anxiety
  • Bedwetting
  • Nightmares
  • Headaches
  • Abnormal weight gain or loss
  • Difficulty walking or sitting
  • Defensive injuries to forearms
  • Burn injuries
  • Lacerations
  • Facial injuries

While there are lists of warning signs of child abuse available, many people need to simply trust their instincts when they sense that something is wrong.

Child Abuse Prevention – Where To Report It

Many people who suspect that child abuse is occurring are not sure of where to report it.  If you believe that a child is being abused and you’re unsure of where to turn, you can always speak to law enforcement for help.  In addition, the federal government has online resources available for you to use if you would rather contact someone more specialized in dealing with these situations.  This link provides information for child abuse and neglect reporting numbers for all of the states across the country.  The bottom line is that if you believe that this is happening, report it.

How Children’s Rights Lawyers Can Help

During National Child Abuse Prevention Month, we should all take a few minutes to make sure that we have a basic understanding of this troubling and for millions of people terrifying issue.  If your child has been abused by someone and you need help determining how to hold that person, those people or that organization accountable, seek the help of children’s rights lawyers who have earned a long track record of standing up for the safety, dignity and health of young people.  Contact Gomez Trial Attorneys today for a free case evaluation.

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