April brings about visions of flowers, picnics and trips to the beach. For most children, it’s a fun time. But for tens of thousands of children nationwide, it’s the same as every other heartbreaking time of the year, suffering physical, emotional or sexual abuse at the hands of the adults they trust.
To help boost awareness of the plight of these children, US Department of Health and Human Services’ Children’s Bureau funds the National Child Abuse Prevention Month initiative each April. The statistics certainly back up the need for increased awareness. In federal fiscal year 2012, the most recent year for which national child maltreatment statistics are available, upwards of 3.4 million reports were made to child protective services concerning the safety and well-being of nearly 6.3 million children. Subsequent investigation s result in upward of 686,000 unique-count children found to be victims of physical abuse, sexual abuse or neglect. In the most tragic cases, an estimated 1,640 children lost their lives.
Children who are abused or neglected often face lifelong troubles including depression and suicide attempts, substance abuse, learning and developmental disabilities, social anxieties, teen pregnancy, domestic violence and chronic illnesses including heart disease, lung disease and cancer.
To help protect the children you love, it’s critical that you know the signs of various forms of child abuse and neglect. Children’s legal advocacy attorneys with Jacksonville’s Spohrer & Dodd urge you to know these clues:
- Neglect: Signs of malnutrition, poor hygiene and unattended physical or medical problems;
- Physical abuse: Unexplained bruise, welts or burn marks and a child’s apparent fear or uneasiness around a parent or other caregiver;
- Sexual abuse: Pain, bleeding, redness, or swelling in anal or genital area, and age-inappropriate knowledge of sex or sexual play with toys, self or others;
- Emotional abuse: Extremes in behavior, ranging from overly aggressive to overly passive, or delayed physical, emotional or intellectual development.
If you believe a child you know may be suffering abuse or neglect, report your suspicions to authorities immediately. And if that child is your own or your dependent, contact an experienced children’s legal advocacy attorney.