Overcoming Child Abuse

Reflections on recovery.

Why and How to Report Suspected Child Abuse

Be the one with the courage to report!

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services reports that five children in our country die every day from child abuse and neglect. An article in Reuters reported that a study in the journal Current Biology found that children exposed to family violence show the same pattern of activity in their brains as soldiers exposed to combat, that childhood maltreatment is known to be one of the most potent environmental risk factors linked to later mental health problems such as anxiety disorders and depression, and that another study found that people who suffered maltreatment as children were twice as likely as those who had normal childhoods to develop persistent and recurrent depression, and less likely to respond well or quickly to treatment for their mental illnesses.

 Reading the above paragraph is hard. Witnessing bruises, burns, cuts, welts, etc. on a child as did author and journalist Mickey Goodman, who, in her article, Be the One to Report Child Abuse (http://www.huffingtonpost.com/Mickey-goodman/post_3203_b_... 4/11/2012) describes her reaction to the wounds on her daughter’s friend, is hard. It takes a list of warning signs of abuse from being simply words on a page, and brings them up close and personal. We then have a responsibility to report.

 Warning signs of abuse

1. Unexplained burns, cuts, bruises or welts in the shape of an object.

2. Bite marks

3. Over compliance or anti-social behavior.

4. Sudden changes in school performance.

5. Fear of adults.

6. Apathy or depression

7. Hostility or stress.

8. Lack of concentration.

9. Eating disorders.

10. Lack of adult supervision.

11. Unsuitable clothing for the weather.

12. Dirty or not bathed.

13. Extreme hunger.

Taking that next step – reporting the abuse – frightens many people. For this reason National Children’s Alliance has coordinated the launch of the One With Courage campaign across the country. One With Courage is the first-ever national public awareness initiative focused on the courage it takes to talk about child abuse, to learn the signs of child abuse, and to report abuse when it’s suspected. http://www.huffingtonpost.com/teresa-huizar/are-you-one-with-cour...

 There are many resources available to adults who want to learn how to report suspected child abuse and who need support in that endeavor. This toll free number - 1.800.4.A.CHILD – is a 24-hour service with trained counselors available to listen to and guide you, and this website has a tremendous amount of helpful, motivating information, some of it even divided by state:http://dreamcatchersforabusedchildren.com/abuse/report-abuse-2/?gclid=CNX2ovaa0K8CFQKd7QodclLMEg

Today is Denim Day in New York City and around the country (http://www.denimdaynyc.org/ Denim Day is a city-wide series of sexual violence prevention and education events. For the third consecutive year, a coalition of NYC anti-sexual violence organizations, elected officials, advocates and survivors are joining forces to raise public awareness about sexual assault. They are partnering with Los Angeles based nonprofit Peace Over Violence (www.peaceoverviolence.org) on promoting Denim Day in LA and the entire USA. It is estimated that one in four girls and one in six boys have had an abusive sexual experience in childhood. Please remember that Denim Day or any day is the right day to report suspected abuse of children. Be the one with the courage to report! And encourage your friends, neighbors, colleagues, and families to do the same.

 

Catherine McCall is a Clinical Fellow of the American Association for Marriage and Family Therapy and the author of Never Tell: A True Story of Overcoming a Terrifying Childhood.

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