Kids First Focuses on Child Abuse and Prevention Awareness in April
Child abuse and neglect is a growing problem in the U.S. During the month of April, organizations like Kids First of Florida focus on the problem. April has been designated National Child Abuse and Prevention Awareness Month and Kids First has devoted a special section of our website to help educate our community about the problem.
In 2015 (the last year for which statistics are currently available*), an estimated 1,670 children died from abuse or neglect in the U.S. More than 300,000 child victims were treated for abuse during that one year. (SOURCE: National Children’s Alliance www.nationalchildrensalliance.org)
Each year, the National Children’s Alliance estimates that more than 700,000 children are abused. In total, Child Protective Services across the country are protecting more than 3 million children.
Sadly, it is the youngest children who are most at risk. In the first year of life, 24 of every 1,000 babies were victimized. Some 75% of these are cases of neglect, while 17% are physically abused and over 8% were sexually abused. Some children are victimized in multiple ways. Nearly 80% of children abused were abused by a parent.
The advocacy group childhelp.org reports that child abuse puts children at risk for multiple mental health and substance abuse disorders, health issues, future lost productivity and financial problems, and even a shortened life span. A report of child abuse is made every 10 seconds, according to Childhelp. In fact, the number of children impacted by child abuse and neglect in a single year would fill 10 football stadiums, the agency says.
How can you help?
Prevention and education are the keys. Learning about the problem and how to prevent it will help children throughout our community. Here are things you can do to prevent child abuse (SOURCE: WASHINGTON STATE DEPT. OF SOCIAL AND HEALTH SERVICES)
- Volunteer in your community to help vulnerable families.
- Use discipline as a way to teach children how to behave. Never discipline when you are angry.
- Examine your own behavior. Abuse can be verbal as well as physical. Use your words and actions to show children and other adults that you can deal with conflict without yelling or striking someone.
- Learn about child abuse and share the information with others. Support other parents with mentoring programs, after-school activities or respite care to keep kids safe from harm or neglect.
- Teach children they have a right to be safe. Some children believe that abuse is their fault and that can lead to additional victimization.
- Support prevention programs such as family counseling and home nurse visits by advocating for investments in programs that stop abuse before it starts. Encourage community leaders and employers to invest in children.
- Understand the signs of child abuse and neglect. Knowing what to look for, such as sudden changes in a child’s behavior, can help spot a child who is being abused.
- Report abuse if you see a child being harmed or see evidence of abuse. If a child talks to you about abuse, be sure to tell him or her that she did the right thing.
If you have any questions or would like help, please contact Kids First of Florida.