cardinality_blog-06

Child Abuse Prevention Awareness Month and why it matters

By Annabell Lee

April is is National Child Abuse Prevention Month. With over 686,000 children experiencing abuse and neglect each year, the importance of this month is clear. The U.S. Department of Health emphasizes, we must prevent child abuse and neglect by empowering communities to support families and children. This idea is reflected in this year’s theme: "Thriving Children and Families: Prevention With Purpose."

Child abuse is an issue with complex roots which can make it difficult to tackle. Attitudes and behaviors can be rooted in economic instability, a lack of resources, poor parenting techniques, among others.

Raising Awareness

Source: https://www.archspm.org

Awareness is important for many reasons. It reminds people that:

  1. An issue exists
  2. It matters
  3. They can do something about it

Many people don’t know that the most common form of maltreatment is neglect. It can be difficult to spot, which is why people must be aware of the warning signs.

Here are the signs of neglect as reported by Childwelfare.gov:

  • Is frequently absent from school
  • Begs or steals food or money
  • Lacks needed medical care (including immunizations), dental care, or glasses
  • Is consistently dirty and has severe body odor
  • Lacks sufficient clothing for the weather
  • Abuses alcohol or other drugs
  • States that there is no one at home to provide care

People may be reluctant to report suspected child abuse due to fear of being wrong. However, the Children’s Bureau addresses this fear:

"If you suspect a child is being harmed, reporting your suspicions may protect him or her and help the family receive assistance. Any concerned person can report suspicions of child abuse or neglect. Reporting your concerns is not making an accusation; rather, it is a request for an investigation and assessment to determine if help is needed."

Resources that people can go to for child abuse:

  • The Child Abuse and Neglect webpage provides information on identifying abuse, statistics, risk and protective factors, and more.
  • The Reporting Child Abuse and Neglect webpage provides information about mandatory reporting and how to report suspected maltreatment.

Why prevention matters

The scope of this issue is huge. Child protective service workers responded to an estimated 3.8 million allegations of child abuse or neglect nationwide. This number is especially large when considering the fact that there are still many cases that go unreported. At least 1 in 7 children experience child abuse and/or neglect.

The long term impacts of abuse on children is detrimental to their wellbeing. Children who experience abuse are at risk for delayed cognitive performance, emotional difficulties, mental health issues, and more. However, with early intervention and help, many of these children can work through and overcome these circumstances.

This is why it is important for community members to report suspected child abuse. Even if they are unsure, at the minimum, caseworkers can assess the situation to make sure that the children and/or family do not need assistance. We must all play our parts in preventing child abuse so that more children can live happy and fulfilling lives.

Cardinality was founded on the mission to help the most vulnerable members of our population through improved technology. Sadly, neglected and abused children are perhaps the most vulnerable. Cardinality is dedicating our platform the next month to these children to raise awareness and be the voice they need to drive change.

Stay tuned to learn more or visit preventchildabuse.org to see how you can get involved in your community.