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Child Abuse Prevention Month (April)

April serves as National Child Abuse Prevention Month. Many terms or phases are used interchangeably: child abuse, neglect and child maltreatment. By definition, child abuse means:

"Any recent act or failure to act on the part of a parent or caretaker which results in death, serious physical or emotional harm, sexual abuse or exploitation; or an act or failure to act which presents an imminent risk of serious harm."

The Child Abuse Prevention and Treatment Act (CAPTA)

Annually, more than 3.5 million children are reported to state and local Child Protective Services (CPS) agencies as victims of child abuse and neglect. The death of a child is the most tragic consequence as a result of child abuse. In 2007, an estimated 1,760 children died as a result of child abuse and neglect, a rate of 2.35 per 100,000 U.S. children and Puerto Rico. Some people are not comfortable talking about child abuse, but prevention and intervention are everyone's responsibility within a community. Many states accept anonymous reports of alleged child abuse and neglect. Some people who work directly with children and families are mandated by law to report child abuse and neglect. For more information on reporting procedures and guidelines, please contact your State's child welfare agency.

Five protective factors exist to help parents. Whether you are a person in a social service position helping families, a coworker helping a friend or a parent yourself trying to survive, attention given to these five areas can reduce the risk of child abuse.

  1. Nurturing and Attachment: Building a close bond helps parents better understand, respond to, and communicate with their children.
  2. Knowledge of parenting and of child and youth development: Parents learn what to look for at each age and how to help their children reach their full potential.
  3. Parental resilience: Recognizing the signs of stress and enhancing problem-solving skills can help parents build their capacity to cope.
  4. Social connections: Parents with an extensive network of family, friends, and neighbors have better support in times of need.
  5. Concrete supports for parents: Caregivers with access to financial, housing, and other concrete resources and services that help them meet their basic needs can better attend to their role as parents.

Information taken from Strengthening Families and Communities: 2009 Resource Guide. U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Children's Bureau, Office on Child Abuse and Neglect, its Child Welfare Information Gateway, and the FRIENDS National Resource Center for Community-Based Child Abuse Prevention.

If you suspect that abuse is taking place, please contact your local child protective service agency, call your local police department, or call the National Child Abuse Hotline at 1.800.4.A.CHILD / 1.(800) 422-4453.

For more information:

Article provided by Dana Breeding, RN Health Educator with Community Outreach.