April is Child Abuse Prevention Month, helping to raise awareness about the physical, emotional and sexual abuse of children and child neglect. Every year, millions of reports of suspected child abuse are filed in the U.S. with many more going unreported. Children are subject to abuse where they live, play, and learn often at the hands of someone they know such as a family member, a teacher, a mentor, or a coach. Raising awareness is the key to improving the lives of many families and children across the nation.
Types of Child Abuse
Child abuse can be physical, emotional, or sexual and can include neglect. Physical child abuse involves injury to a child that is not an accident. Emotional abuse is maltreatment of a child that may include criticism, insults, yelling, rejection or withholding affection. Sexual abuse involves inappropriate sexual behavior involving children, and child neglect is a form of abuse that involves a failure to provide for a child’s basic needs such as food, clothing, shelter and love.
Signs of Child Abuse
It is important to be aware of possible signs of child abuse or neglect, which may include evidence of physical abuse such as unexplained injuries, often accompanied by nervousness or fear around certain adults, sudden or extreme changes in behavior or school performance, or a reluctance to go home. Signs of neglect may include frequently missing days of school, lack of hygiene, hunger, and statements indicating there is no one providing care at home. If someone suspects child abuse or neglect, it is important to seek the help of proper authorities.
Protective Factors in Preventing Child Abuse and Neglect
There are a number of protective factors that can prevent child abuse or neglect from occurring in the first place, methods that everyone in the community can get behind to help build healthy children and strong families.
- Recognizing Accomplishments and Build Resiliency – Start by helping parents and caregivers see their strengths and build on those strengths to solve challenges. Modeling or sharing stories of resiliency – an ability to bounce back – can help parents overcome difficult situations.
- Building Social Connections – Community sponsored events that offer families a safe place to gather and make friends – a social connection – can provide essential support and allow parents and children to bond while having fun.
- It Takes a Village to Raise a Child – Sharing knowledge of parenting and pointing out helpful resources that a parent has utilized themselves can provide needed information and support to other parents and caregivers. Helping children to grow socially and emotionally in every day interactions such as taking turns, learning to share, expressing likes and dislikes can help children build social and emotional competence and confidence.
- Real Support Where Needed – Sometimes concrete support is needed when parents or caregivers are in a pinch. It may be a matter of connecting parents to available community services, or just offering a helping hand such as babysitting, a grocery run, or simply listening when a parent is having a hard time.
Spreading Awareness of Child Abuse and Neglect
Spreading awareness regarding child abuse and neglect is the key to prevention. For more information and helpful resources regarding Child Abuse Prevention Month, visit Prevent Child Abuse Illinois today.
If you need legal assistance, Attorney Ronald L. Bell represents all clients involved in domestic violence situations, which may include child abuse and neglect. We understand how devastating domestic violence can be to you and your family, and we are committed to helping ensure a safe future for all involved, providing representation in the areas of divorce and separation, parenting time and responsibility aka child custody, temporary (emergency) orders for support and protection, and the division of marital assets and debt.
Ronald L. Bell & Associates P.C. represent family law clients in Lake County and throughout northern Illinois. Contact our office today for immediate assistance at 847-495-6000.