April is National Child Abuse Prevention Month

National Child Abuse Prevention Month is an observance that takes place in the U.S. each April. The goal of the educational events and efforts related to the observance is to raise awareness of child abuse and help prevent it. At our family therapy center, we provide services that help families understand the importance of protecting children from abuse and neglect. We also teach them to look for the signs of depression and anxiety disorder that can indicate a problem exists.

While National Child Abuse Prevention Month was first observed in 1983, in 2016 President Obama renewed our national focus on its goals in a Presidential proclamation that said, "During National Child Abuse Prevention Month, we recommit to giving every child a chance to succeed and to ensuring that every child grows up in a safe, stable and nurturing environment that is free from abuse and neglect.”

Effects of Child Abuse

Children who are abused not only suffer the abuse itself, they are also at risk of developing a wide variety of long-term effects, including:

  • Depression
  • Anxiety
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Disconnection from thoughts, feelings or sense of identity
  • Poor performance at school or work
  • Difficulty connecting with others
  • Flashbacks
  • Difficulty sleeping
  • Eating disorders
  • Illegal substance use and abuse
  • Risky sexual behavior
  • Self-harm
  • Fear of physical touch

Signs of Child Abuse

Child abuse takes many forms, some harder to detect than others. The more common indicators that a child may be being abused include:

  • Poor hygiene
  • Inappropriate dress
  • Bruises or welts
  • Abrasions or lacerations
  • Broken bones
  • Burns
  • Weight loss
  • Trouble sitting or walking
  • Pain or itching in the genital area

It is also common for a child that is being abused to try to explain away many of these signs as being “accidents.”

How to Report Child Abuse

The first step in stopping child abuse is to report it to the authorities. For adults who suspect a child is being abused, this can include calling 911 if it is believed a child is in immediate danger or by contacting a Child Protective Services agency.

For a child who is being abused, reporting the situation can be very frightening. It’s important that adults let children know that there are many ways to report abuse. The child can talk with a trusted teacher, counselor, coach or neighbor, or a non-abusing parent or other family members. They can also contact the police by calling 911 if necessary.

Children should also be reassured that abuse is never acceptable and is never their “fault.” Parents or caregivers have a legal obligation to feed, clothe and protect them, and there are many ways to ensure that happens, from family therapy to legal intervention.

Helping Families Understand and Prevent Child Abuse

Often the best way to prevent child abuse and long-term consequences like depression and anxiety is to help build stronger families. SummitStone provides a number of family therapy programs that teach people to deal with life’s many challenges more effectively. Contact us to learn more. You can reach us at (970) 494-4200. If you are dealing with an immediate mental or emotional crisis, our Access Center is available at that same phone number 24/7. In the case of a life-threatening emergency, please call 911.

 

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