NORFOLK -- Last year, 33 children in Virginia lost their lives to abuse or neglect and thousands more suffered physical abuse, emotional abuse, sexual abuse, or neglect.
April is Child Abuse Prevention Month -- a time to remember that it takes all of us working together to protect children.
Tip 1: Why is it so important to focus on Child Abuse Prevention, not just in April but every day?
• Every child has the right to be loved and have a sense of security
• With their needs met, children can develop self-love and high self-esteem, and become confident and independent, with healthy relationships
• The impact of child maltreatment can be profound. Multiple systems are involved in cases of child abuse and neglect, including medicine, mental health, law enforcement, judicial systems, social services, special education, and nonprofit agencies. One analysis of the direct and indirect costs of child abuse and neglect suggests that child maltreatment costs the nation as much as $80 billion in a year
Tip 2: You want parents, caregivers, guardians, and educators to know the signs of Abuse and Neglect?
Warning signs of abuse include:
• unexplained bruises, burns, or fractures, especially in a child who is too young to get around on their own
• a parent has severe substance abuse or mental health problems
• a child is often inappropriately dressed for the weather
• a child is consistently dirty, or has a noticeable body odor
Tip 3: What should someone do if they suspect a child is being abused or neglected, and what should parents do to avoid it?
• Parents should learn to handle frustration. If your baby is crying and can’t be consoled, try feeding, walking or changing her. If those things don’t work, and you’re feeling frustrated, put the child down in a safe place and take a break. Remember, never shake a baby; serious brain injury or death could result.
• Call someone (clergy, friend, neighbor, family member), and ask them to give you a break.
• Take care of yourself. Get enough rest, eat good meals, and exercise regularly.
• Children’s Hospital of The King’s Daughters offers a variety of parenting classes and parenting support groups year-round; many of these are offered free to the community. Call the CHKD Health Line for more information at 668-7500.
• Take Action if You Suspect Abuse or Neglect Make a confidential call to the Child Abuse Hotline or call your local Child Protective Services Office. All it takes is one person to help a child, and potentially save their life.
Contact info: Child Abuse Hotline at 1-800-552-7096