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Child Abuse and Neglect Prevention

Child Abuse and Neglect Prevention

Debbie Menzel, Safe Harbor Kids Konnection Coordinator

What is Child Abuse and how is Neglect Defined?

There are four major types of child maltreatment:  neglect, physical abuse, sexual abuse and emotional abuse.

The neglect of children is failure to provide for a child’s basic needs.  Neglect may be physically not providing supervision or failure to provide necessary food, shelter or medical care, the abandonment of basic needs and providing an environment in which a child can thrive.  Neglect may be the failure to provide any care necessary for the child’s health and well-being.  Neglect may be the inattention to a child’s emotional needs.  Children that have sustained emotionalharm or mental injury intellectually or psychologically is also considered maltreatment.The exposure to domestic violence or exposing the child to an environment that is being used for the manufacture, use, or distribution of methamphetamines is an example of neglect. Prenatal exposure of alcohol, drugs or any drug not lawfully prescribed by a practitioner is a state statute defined under child abuse and neglect.

The physical abuse of children is physical injury as a result of punching, beating, kicking, biting, shaking, throwing, stabbing, choking, hitting, burning, or otherwise harming a child.  Signs of physical abuse can be unexplained bruises and welts on any part of the child’s body.  Unexplained burns such as from cigars or cigarettes, immersion burns sock-like or glove-like, patterned burns like from an electric burner or an iron are examples of abuse.  Abuse can be expected if the stories just don’t match up with the explanation of the injuries.

The sexual abuse of children includes activities by a caretaker such as fondling a child’s genitals, penetration, incest, rape, indecent exposure, child trafficking or the production or viewing of pornographic material.

The emotional abuse of children is any pattern of behavior that impairs a child’s emotional development or sense of self-worth.

How is Child Abuse Prevented?

Prevention efforts build on family strengths.  Through prevention activities such as parent education, monitored visitation and parent support groups, many families are able to find the support they need to stay together and care for their children.

We have a role to play in building strong communities in which families and children are valued and supported.  These “Five R’s,” can help individuals better understand the role they play in child abuse prevention.

Raise the issue – Educate the community.

Reach out to kids and parents in your community.

Remember the risk factors.  The risk factors are greater in families where parents: abuse alcohol or drugs, are isolated from the community, have difficulty controlling their anger or stress, appear uninterested in the care, nourishment, or safety of their children, seem to be having serious economic, housing or personal problems.

Recognize the warning signs of child abuse or neglect.  Some of the warning signs that a child might be abused or neglected include: Aggressive or withdrawn, inability to concentrate, changes in personality, acting out sexually, frequent or unexplained bruises, low self-esteem and poor hygiene.

Report suspected abuse or neglect.  Every child deserves to flourish and thrive.