April is National Child Abuse Prevention Month
April is National Child Abuse Prevention Month, and it is essential to remember that child abuse and neglect can happen to any child in any community. As a community, we all have a role to play in preventing child abuse and helping raise healthy children.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimate that one in seven children in the U.S. experienced abuse and neglect in the past year. Child abuse can take many forms, including physical violence, sexual abuse, emotional abuse, and neglect. Educating ourselves on what constitutes maltreatment and knowing the signs of abuse is important.
Last year, Faces of Hope Foundation served more than 1,300 men, women, and children in nearly 5,000 visits to our Center for Foundation services, with an average of 71 children coming through the doors each month—abuse happens here in our community. Some of these young clients are coming through for counseling, victims of child abuse, or with parents seeking to escape violence in the home.
It is essential to educate ourselves on the signs of abuse, including depression, fear of a particular adult, difficulty trusting others or making friends, sudden changes in eating or sleeping patterns, inappropriate sexual behavior, poor hygiene, secrecy, and hostility. If you witness a child being harmed or see evidence of abuse, it is crucial to make a report to your state’s child protective services department or local police.
Talking to them can be difficult if you suspect a child is being abused. However, it is vital to listen carefully, assure the child that they did the right thing by telling an adult, and affirm that they are not responsible for what happened. Working together as a community can help prevent child abuse and provide a safe and nurturing environment for all children.