Many adults might not spend much time thinking about child abuse. The very idea seems absurd to most people. How could an adult intentionally harm a child?
Tragically, the truth is many children are abused physically, emotionally and sexually. It’s a tough topic, but one that needs to be addressed. That’s why April is designated as National Child Abuse Prevention Month.
History of Child Abuse Prevention Month
The roots of National Child Abuse Prevention Month date back to 1974 and the creation of the Child Abuse Prevention and Treatment Act (CAPTA), which was designed to increase awareness of the need to protect children.
Members of the U.S. Senate and House of Representatives discussed this important subject in 1982. They declared June 6 – 12 to be National Child Abuse Prevention Week. Later they decided that one week was not enough time to focus on such a vital issue. In 1983 April was officially declared to be National Child Abuse Prevention Month.
It Starts With The Family
One of the most common forms of abuse cannot be seen by others. Neglect may not leave physical signs like bruises or black eyes, but it can be just as painful. Parents neglect children for many reasons: they may be tired from working multiple jobs, busy with time-consuming hobbies or exhibiting behavior learned from their own neglectful parents.
One of the best ways for parents to avoid becoming neglectful is to form a strong bond with a child during the first few years of life. Parents who spend large amounts of time with their babies – holding them, reading to them, playing games together – develop family ties that last a lifetime. Every baby craves attention, and it’s up to parents to give it. No matter how busy work or personal schedules become.
Recognize Child Abuse
Spotting signs of neglect is difficult, but even recognizing physical abuse can be tricky. Children tend to play rough, so they can easily become bruised and battered from sports or extracurricular activities. So how can adults tell the difference?
There are several indicators to watch for. Young kids who seem fearful of every adult, or constantly worry that everything they do will get them in trouble, may be reacting to abuse. Another cause for suspicion comes when a child is unable to explain an injury, or tells an outlandish story about how they got hurt.
Signs of sexual abuse are even harder to recognize. Many victims are so overwhelmed by the experience that they drastically change their behavior. Outgoing children may suddenly become highly introverted. Kids who usually excel in school may let their grades drop dramatically. Any sudden and unexplained change should be a red flag.
Victims of sexual abuse often act out in an overtly sexual manner. Children who force smaller kids to re-enact sexual activities, or display knowledge of sex acts and terms that are above their age level should be watched closely. Parents or teachers who notice these behaviors should not be afraid to ask questions and get involved.
Help Protect Children
Most children who endure abuse are victimized by family members. Adults who were once abused are far more likely to become abusive. But even people who appear to be normal, loving parents can have a violent side that others never see. Parents may react to stress, financial issues or a child who throws a temper tantrum, and take the aggression out on their own offspring.
New parents are urged to learn more about child abuse and how to keep cool during difficult situations. There are family resource centers throughout the country that teach adults how to cope with the difficulties of parenthood and find the help that they need to get through difficult times.
Parents should do everything possible to avoid becoming abusive, but everyone can do their part to keep children safe. Do you know someone with young children? Consider helping them out by babysitting, running errands or just listening. Sometimes a stressed-out parent needs nothing more than a little time or a good friend.
You may be able to help parents and children, but if you have good reason to believe that any child is in danger, report what you know to the police.
Education is a powerful tool, and concerned adults can find a large amount of useful information online. Young children are very vulnerable to sexual predators, so it’s up to parents to do everything possible to protect kids.
Sexual abuse is a serious problem that concerns every family, but every parent has access to an excellent resource. A Sex Offender Search allows people to find information on sexual offenders living in any city or state. This service shows you where sexual predators live, gives you descriptions of their crimes and provides a photo of every offender.
Adults can also get involved with child abuse prevention programs. Groups like Prevent Child Abuse America show people how they can help stop abuse at home and within their community. The Child Welfare Information Gateway is an organization that is dedicated to protecting children and strengthening families. Their website is another great source of useful information and tips.
Protecting children is a communal effort. If we all work together, we can help put an end to child abuse in America. Use April as a good time to start, learn what you can do all year long and thank you for reading the PeopleFinders People Search blog.