April is Child Abuse Awareness Month

Children are our loved ones, our future and our joy as well as our responsibility. And I do not mean just the children born to us, I also mean the children in our neighborhoods, our communities and our country. Children are our future leaders, future teachers, future scientists, future doctors and nurses and future parents. Children are often called our greatest natural resource.

 Our country has laws to advocate for our children as well as to protect them. It may suprise you to know that it was as recently as 1974 that our first federal laws regarding child abuse were passed. Prior to that the only protection they had was state laws and sometimes those laws could be a bit haphazard at best. But in 1974 the Child Abuse Prevention and Treatment Act (CAPTA), went into effect.

In June 1982 the first National Child Abuse Awareness week was proclaimed. Since 1983 the time was increased to a month and the National Child Abuse Awareness Month has always been held in the month of April. A time to clebrate children and renew our committment to protect them.

childwelfare.gov

Protecting children often means doing a hard thing. It means that sometimes the average citizen may have to report suspicions that a child may be being abused. And it could be a strangers child, but most often is a neighbor, or a friend or relative. So the decision to report is not easy. You may even find yourself questioning if you should have the right to make a report on what is happening in someone else’s home. The answer to that is yes. Every child is important. Every child is worth saving. We lose too many children to violence, and even one child is too many.

Protecting children sounds like something that should be instinctive, something that all parents should do for their own children. And most do. But sometimes things break down. A parent maybe cannot or will not protect them. Or perhaps even becomes the abuser.

A child can suffer from abuse in many ways. Direct abuse to the child that may or may not result in physical injury to the child. Or through observance of the abuse of others. Both have a profound and lasting psychological effect on children as well as any physical affects of an injury.

So the National Child Abuse Awareness month is a reminder to all that there are laws to protect children. And that anyone who happens to witness abuse of any child, it should be reported. Some reports may trigger efforts to have the children removed from an unsafe environment. And some reports may result in an arrest. And some reports may result in obtaining assistance to aid the family in staying together. But all reports must be investigated and all actions taken are to protect the child.

What should you report? Any time you see abuse, any time that you see injuries on a child and were told the injuries were due to something else- but the story doesn’t seem to match the injuries. Any time you hear a child talk about abuse. Making a report doesn’t automatically condemn the reported person. Their will be no action unless their investigation reveals that abuse did occur and the agency feels that some action needs to be taken. And the action that is taken will vary according to circumstances in the home, what the investigation reveals and what the investigating agency feels is the best protection for the child. What should you do if you report abuse, and do not see any action being taken? Caseworkers cannot just walk into a home and remove children unless their investigation confirms abuse or neglect and reveals an immediate danger to the child. In some cases, it may take more than one report to give enough evidence. If you see further signs of abuse or neglect, you make new reports. And always try to make reports soon after a suspected incident, while any possible evidence will be fresh.

Now while we are on the subject of abuse and how it affects children, remember when I said that children can be affected by observing abuse of others? Even very young children can be affected by violence in the home. Even young children can suffer from traumatic stress, even if they have not been abused themselves. And statistically there is a greater chance that if there is domestic violence in the home, there is a greater chance that child abuse also occurs in the home.

aaets.org

So please remember that all children need our protection. There is an old proverb I think Africian proverb that I think is very appropriate at this time. It says it takes a  whole village to raise a child. And I believe it takes all of us to help protect them.

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9 Comments

  1. Trey said,

    April 3, 2008 at 1:25 am

    Good post. Another important stat is that domestic violence in a child’s home is the greatest predictor of a child growing up to be a sexual perpetrator. Domestic violence is also child abuse.

    Neglect is the hidden side of child abuse. Neglect is not mentioned as much, it is the most overlooked form of abuse, it is the most prevelent. It is also the most deadly. Most states have protection for people who report child abuse, and many of them make it at least technically illegal to NOT report child abuse or neglect.

    Trey

  2. April 3, 2008 at 2:13 am

    Thank you Trey, that was very helpful.

  3. April 3, 2008 at 2:25 pm

    Excellent post! Thorough, accurate and easy to read. Good Job!!!
    I hope you have a lot of traffic on it.

    As part of this month’s focus on child abuse prevention I am circulating a petiton on line.

    The purpose of the petition is to ask Congress to hold hearings and take action to fix what they can of the broken parts of the Child Welfare System.

    The Title of the Petition is: Children Die When Child Protective Services Fail Them.

    If you would like to sign it, here’s the URL.

    http://www.thepetitionsite.com/1/children-die-when-child-protective-services-fail-them

    Thank you for focusing the attention of your blog on this important issue!

    A Child is Waiting.
    Take Care…Be Aware,
    Nancy Lee Gray (AKA Child Person)

  4. Trey said,

    April 3, 2008 at 7:02 pm

    Nancy, I spend a lot of time thinking about CPS. I live in the South, and in my state, the job has become too complicated for the people who are doing it. They are routinely in over their heads, and I am just talking about some of those people with good intentions. It is just ot a BA level position anymore.

    The job is MA and above now in terms of complexity and training needs. And the people who are doing the job know that on some level, because they get really amazingly defensive when you point out their mistakes or oversights. Letting the overhwlemed people go and replacing them with better educated and trained workers will be necessary in order to populate the department with people who are up to the job. At least that is my experience.

    I am off to check out your petition, but I think it is more a State than a Federal issue.

    Trey

  5. Anonymous Anonymous said,

    April 4, 2008 at 8:00 pm

    I want to clear up what really happened. The grandfather went to the home and found the girl naked. She was NOT bleeding. He found the lack of clothes suspicious so he called Child Protective Services. A CPS worker went to the home and it was (s)he who discovered the girl was being sexually abused. (S)he called the local police and both worked together to get the information and evidence they needed.
    The mother was not being beaten because she threatened to tell. She was regularly abused by Lukacs on a daily basis. Her reason for not speaking to authorities about Lukac’s actions were not to protect herself or her children, but because she had “feelings” for him.

    I hope this clears some of this up. I do not like inaccurate information. Thank you!

  6. obosonjaandbianca said,

    April 12, 2008 at 1:52 am

    My daughters where taken from me and handed to the abusers Mother!!! This entry makes me cry, because it seems no one understands the abuse that happens with words. It does not have to be physical! I am a good Mom and things in the ‘system’ were done very wrongly and although I suffer, my daughters will suffer the most at their vulnerable ages! I can’t seem to get the proper help and it seems like my words go unheard and no one is doing anything despite attempts. Thank you for this blog and I am going to link you.
    Christina

  7. April 12, 2008 at 3:23 am

    Obosonjaandbianca, I am so sorry for what happened to you and your family. My belief is that often the emotional abuse is longer lasting than some of the physical abuse. And it is also harder to prove in court. Have you talked with your local domestic violence agency to see what suggestions they might be able to offer you? Also helpful might be to talk to the children’s doctor and or a social worker about the problem.

  8. Melanie said,

    May 5, 2008 at 8:24 pm

    I need help. December 14th. I hate that date and will for as long as I am alive. My daughter called me saying I needed to get to the hospital, that it was my granddaughter and that was all she said.
    Twisted fractured arm at two weeks old and now two broken knees at short of four weeks old.
    I was in shock. From so angry to crying like a baby. I knew it had to have been either my daughter or her husband that had done it.
    Since that time I have gone through so much uglyness from his side of the family, him and even my daughter. Which I still don’t understand any of. Now after CPS classes they are “suppose” to get my granddaughter back. Last month, APRIL, they arrest my daughter’s husband for child abuse. Note:my daughter was charged with Medical Neg. and he was charged with Medical Neg. and Child Abuse. He confessed that he had done it and was a accident.
    My daughter is verly talking to me and havn’t seen my granddaughter but twice since Dec.14th.,by choice since his family have temp.custody and I don’t want anymore uglyness or to finally explode on them. I don’t know what to do.

  9. May 6, 2008 at 2:17 am

    Melanie, about all I know for you to do is to check with an attorney and see if your state supports court ordered grandparent visitation. Do you know any of their neighbors who might keep an eye on things for you?


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