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Wear a blue ribbon, support campaign
by Gale Horinbein,
Baby Syndrome Prevention Project Coordinator
About 900,000 children in the United States do not know what it is like
to be safe and sound in their homes due to abuse and neglect, according
to a 2005 study. In South Carolina, children are particularly
vulnerable to these dangers.
Nationally, four children—of all races, genders and socioeconomic
backgrounds—die each day as a result of abuse or neglect. South
Carolina ranks among the worst states in terms of child welfare,
according to a recently-released report by Every Child Matters
Education Fund. The state’s 45th overall ranking was based on 10 child
well-being standards, including poverty, child abuse, teen
incarceration and premature deaths. South Carolina’s worst ranking was
50th in per-capita child welfare expenditures, the principal funding
source for dealing with child abuse and neglect.
April has been designated Child Abuse Prevention Month, which is a time
to focus on the protection and care of our most vulnerable and trusting.
Since its first presidential proclamation in 1983, Child Abuse
Prevention Month has been observed each April to raise the public’s
awareness of the devastating effects of child abuse and empower and
encourage people to become involved and support families so that we can
prevent all forms of child abuse and neglect from reaching our nation’s
children. Throughout the month, the Blue Ribbon Campaign takes place to
serve as a memorial to the children who were affected by abuse and
neglect and also a reminder that we can all play a part in making child
abuse prevention our business.
The statistics are alarming and bring to light the seriousness of this
problem that affects not only children, but also families and society.
An estimated 3.3 million reports were made to child protective services
nationally about the safety and well-being of approximately 6 million
children. As a result of these reports, about 899,000 children were
found to be victims of child abuse or neglect. In other words, a child
is abused or neglected every 35 seconds in this country. Of these, 60
percent are neglected, more than 15 percent are physically abused, less
than 10 percent are sexually abused, and less than 10 percent are
Young children are most at risk for being abused and neglected. Infants
represent the largest proportion of victims; almost 29 percent of the
victims are 3 years old and younger, including newborns; and over a
half of all victims are 7 years old or younger.
Child deaths are the most tragic results of maltreatment. In 2005,
about 1,460 children died due to abuse or neglect. More than 40 percent
of these deaths were attributed to neglect. Abusive head trauma or SBS
(Shaken Baby Syndrome) is the leading cause of death of physically
abused children. Sadly, children aged 3 years or younger accounted for
approximately 77 percent of all child abuse and neglect fatalities.
Four of five victims are abused by at least one parent, and no matter
how fatal abuse occurs, the perpetrators are the very individuals
responsible for the care and supervision of these victims.
Experts believe many more cases go unreported and will never be brought
to the attention of the state’s child protective agencies or law
enforcement. This is unfortunate, since reporting abuse can help
connect families with counseling and other services to relieve a
family’s stress that, in turn, could save a life.
The impact of child maltreatment can be profound —far greater than the
immediate, visible effects. Research shows that child maltreatment is
associated with adverse health and mental health outcomes in children
and families, and those negative effects can last a lifetime. The
long-term effects can be physical, psychological or behavioral.
A history of child abuse or neglect has been associated with increased
risk of mental illness, substance abuse, developmental disabilities and
learning problems, social problems with other children and with adults,
teen pregnancy, under-performance or failure in school, alcohol and
other substance abuse, and domestic violence.
In addition to the impact on the child and family, child abuse and
neglect affect various public systems, including medical and mental
health, law enforcement, judicial, social services, and non-profit
agencies, as they respond to the incident and support the victim. One
analysis of the immediate and long-term economic impact of child abuse
and neglect suggests that child maltreatment costs the nation up to
$258 million per day, or about $94 billion a year.
These facts are distressing, but the good news is that child abuse is
100 percent preventable.
Although all the causes of child abuse and neglect are not known,
research has identified several risk factors and protective factors
associated with child abuse. Studies also have shown that multiple risk
factors present greater risk. For example, lack of preparation or
knowledge of critical issues surrounding parenting, financial or other
environmental stressors, difficulty in relationships, stress of single
parenting and depression or other mental health problems, can all lead
to abusive or neglectful behavior.
These circumstances, combined with the inherent challenges of raising
children, can result in otherwise well-intentioned parents causing
their children harm or neglecting their needs.
By helping parents who might be struggling with any of these
challenges, we can reduce the likelihood that their children will be
abused or neglected. Prevention efforts build upon family strengths.
Through prevention activities, such as parent education, home
visitation, and parent support groups, many families are able to find
the support they need to stay together, and care for their children in
their homes and communities.
Child Abuse Prevention Month is an opportunity to highlight the role we
can all play to support parents and families.
This month, wear a blue ribbon and support the prevention of child
abuse. To order blue ribbons, call 792-2975.
For information on local child abuse and neglect programs, contact
Parents Anonymous at 747-0480.
To obtain more information on the Every Child Matters Education Fund,
Prevent Child Abuse, http://www.preventchildabuse.org;
S.C. Department of Social Services, http://www.state.sc.us/dss/;
and U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, http://www.cdc.gov/ncipc/dvp/CMP/default.htm.
Ways to identify neglect,
physical, sexual, emotional abuse
What Is Child Abuse?
- Physical abuse: Includes beating, kicking, biting, shaking,
throwing, stabbing, choking, burning, hitting or punching a child.
Regardless of intent, physical abuse can result in anything from minor
bruises to severe factures or death.
- Neglect: Includes failure to provide for a child’s basic
physical, emotional or educational needs. Leaving a young child alone
or failing to provide medical care may be considered neglect. Exposure
to domestic violence and inattention to the child’s emotional and
physical welfare would be neglect.
- Emotional abuse: May involve verbally abusive language,
constantly criticizing, denigrating or insulting language; threats,
rejection or withholding love from a child. This involves any attitude,
behavior or failure to act that interferes with a child’s mental health
and social development.
Children who are
physically abused may:
- Sexual abuse: Includes rape, touching, fondling, or
involving a child in pornography. It refers to any sexual act,
including indecent exposure, with a child by an adult or older child.
- be watchful, as though preparing for something bad to
- nervous around adults, and become distrustful of other
- have difficulty playing and/or making friends;
- act aggressively toward adults and other children;
- be unable to concentrate in school; becoming underachieving
Children who are sexually
- arrive at school much earlier or leave later than other
- behave differently when the abuse starts;
- care less about their appearance, or their health;
- talk or act sexually at too early of an age;
- be secretive and stop talking about home-life;
- start soiling themselves;
Children who are neglected
or emotionally abused may:
- suddenly find physical contact frightening; or
- have difficultly learning to talk;
- find it hard to develop close relationships;
- be overly friendly with strangers;
- be unable to play imaginatively;
- think badly of themselves; or
Friday, April 18, 2008
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