Child Abuse Prevention month was designated by presidential proclamation, April 1983. Although child abuse prevention needs to be addressed every day, designating a month to reinforce a commitment to protecting children from this heinous crime is important. The abuse many children endure if committed against another adult would result in arrest and sometimes jail time. Whereas, only the worst cases of child abuse are ever reported or adjudicated.
State Child Protective Services (CPS) agencies respond to the needs of children who are alleged to have been maltreated and ensure that they remain safe. The rate of children who received a disposition by CPS agencies was 45.9 per 1,000 children in the national population. This yields an estimate of 3,353,000 children who received investigations or assessments during 2003. The 2003 report is the most recent report.
An estimated 906,000 children were found to be victims, which was approximately 31.7 percent of all children who received an investigation or assessment. A child was counted each time he or she was found to be a victim of maltreatment. The national rate of victimization was 12.4 per 1,000 children; the rates by individual State.
The rate of all children who received an investigation or assessment increased from 36.1 per 1,000 children in 1990 to 45.9 per 1,000 children in 2003, which is a 27.1 percent increase. The rate of victimization decreased from 13.4 per 1,000 children in 1990 to 12.4 per 1,000 children in 2003, which is a 7.5 percent decrease.
DEFINITION OF CHILD ABUSE: Physical abuse—includes hitting, spanking, swatting, smacking, whacking, thumping, bopping, switching, paddling, beating, burning, punching, pulling hair, arms, ears, nose, strangling, force feeding, food deprivation, locking in closets or other confined spaces. Emotional abuse—includes: criticizing, insulting, rejecting, withholding affection/ emotional abandonment, shouting or swearing at, screaming or yelling at, negating, minimizing, humiliating, scapegoat, shaming, fault finding, blaming, ridiculing, diminishing. *** abuse—includes: rape, *** touch/fondling, showing print or video/internet *** ography, allowing a child to see or hear sights and sounds, which are sexual. Coercing the child into behavior that has *** content or overtone for the adult.
HOW YOU CAN PREVENT CHILD ABUSE:
Be a nurturing parent and make your child(ren) a priority. Avoid spanking. There are thousands of reasons why spanking is bad for children—the least of which is that it engenders rage, which may be acted out later in violence. Although spanking is a coveted form of discipline for many parents, there is NOT one good logical reason to hit/spank children. Furthermore, we have laws prohibiting adults from hitting an adult. How can hitting a child be OK if it isn’t OK to hit an adult? There are over100 ways to discipline a child without shouting, screaming or hitting/spanking. Give your child affection everyday. This gives them a sense of security, belonging and support. Observe them demonstrating appropriate behavior and praise them. Develop consequences for unacceptable behavior. Listen. Give your child undivided attention when they talk. Be patient. Remember children move at a different pace when they talk. Spend quality time doing things your child enjoys; as well as including your child in activities you enjoy. Plan to spend special one-on-onetime with each child at least once a week. Play with your child, talk and read with your child.
Reach out to others—family, friends, neighbors Create a support system. Isolation is often a contributing factor to child abuse. Take breaks to do things alone while someone watches your child(ren). Know the warning signs of abuse or neglect. Report any suspected abuse or neglect— allowing authorities to determine whether there is abuse.
Take part in prevention efforts Work to change your state law to prohibit paddling in schools. Twenty-two states allow paddling with a wooden paddle in school. Is your state one of the twenty-two? Work to institute mandatory parenting classes in high school and college. Parenting courses in college would meet the already mandatory humanities courses. Form a parenting club to foster effective parenting. Become a child advocate Participate in child abuse prevention and neglect efforts.
Children are our greatest natural resource. We are responsible for creating a better future.
Dorothy M. Neddermeyer, PhD, specializes in family issues, including *** abuse, incest and physical abuse prevention and recovery, as therapist, author, consultant, lecturer, and trainer. If I’d Only Known… *** Abuse in or out of the Family: A Guide to Prevention is available at a 15% discount direct from the publisher at http://www.gen-assist.com/book.asp - 480-704-0603 - available for 15 minute free consultation and interviews.