SAN DIEGO, April 8, 2014 — The devastation of child abuse will be brought front and center across America this April through the impact of the Blue Ribbon Campaign.
Childhood abuse comes in many forms; these include psychological and emotional abuse, sexual abuse, physical abuse, and abuse by neglect. It strikes children in families everywhere, regardless of racial or socioeconomic status.
Abuse by neglect occurs more frequently in poor communities and households. It results from a lack of adequate financial and other critical resources to properly house, feed, clothe and generally provide and care for children younger than 18.
Child abuse has reached epidemic proportions in America, and there is no doubt that massive unemployment and loss of income in the wake of the “Great Recession” has placed even greater stress on those with the responsibility of caring for their young children.
It is estimated that one in 10 families will be reported for suspected incidents of child abuse annually. The United States Census Bureau counts 32.2 million American households with children under the age of 18, meaning over 3 million households will be reported for abuse.
Over 75 percent of national hotline reports on suspected abuse are allegations of abuse by neglect.
Child abuse is a complex social phenomenon, but the impact is not: It can ultimately degrade the human soul.
Most abusers are either immediate family members, other relatives, family friends, or neighbors. Abusers may be found in positions of trust, working in trusted community organizations: schools, places of worship, or other programs designed for children.
It would be difficult for a small child to understand abuse by a trusted adult, or to understand the abuse in any of the forms it might take. Children are by nature trusting and dependent. They rely upon the adults who are entrusted with their care for their very survival.
The long-range psychological, emotional, and developmental impacts of abuse can follow a child throughout an entire lifetime. Victims of child abuse often find it difficult to form close personal ties or to trust others. They frequently become abusers in adulthood.
Of adult victims of child abuse who have come forward with their own experiences, 25.9 percent reported verbal abuse, 14.8 percent reported physical abuse, and 12.2 percent reported sexual abuse, according to data compiled by the Centers for Disease Control and the Prevention and Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System.
The National Council on Child Abuse and Family Violence shares a few the following signs and symptoms which may be indicative of child abuse:
- repeated bruising and other types of physical injuries
- aggressive or disruptive behavior
- inconsistent attendance in school
- appearance of being inadequately clothed, unclean, or malnourished
- displays of fatigue or listlessness
- inability to relate well to adults
- difficulty forming close ties
- exhibits verbal abuse towards others
- appears defensive, shy, or overly dependent.
Parents should take the leading role as first line of defense against their children being victims of child abuse.
By establishing high-quality and trusting family ties, open communication, education about safety and protection, and encouraging children to say “no” to inappropriate advances or encounters, parents will help ensure that their children are aware and empowered.
To report suspected child abuse, contact the following, helpful resources:
Child Help USA
1-800-4-A Child (1-800-422-4453)
Child Welfare Information Gateway
Seeing life through the eyes of an abused child in this poignant excerpt from “The Attic,” published in Vera House:
In the attic I hide,
Fearing the rage that keeps
banging on the door,
Knowing that outside the storm
gathers its strength.
Sweat mingles with tears.
I taste the dust in the air
as it falls upon me.
My face now covered with
darkened streaks of fear.
There now on the floor, curled up in a ball, Lies the little girl lost within my soul, Bruised, broken and shattered.
— Author unknown
Become a member of the Blue Ribbon Campaign throughout the month of April. Wear a blue ribbon and show support for standing up against child abuse.
Until next time, enjoy the ride in good health!
Laurie Edwards-Tate, MS, is a health care provider of over 30 years. As a featured “Communities Digital News” columnist, LifeCycles with Laurie Edwards-Tate emphasizes healthy aging and maintaining independence, while delighting and informing its readers. Laurie is a recognized expert in home and community-based, long-term care services, and is also an educator.
In addition to writing for “Communities Digital News,” Laurie is the President and CEO of her firm, At Your Home Familycare, which serves persons of all ages who are disabled and infirm with a variety of non-medical, in-home care and concierge services.
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