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Child abuse: Don’t look the other way

April 9, 2014 

April was first declared Child Abuse Prevention Month by presidential proclamation in 1983.

Child abuse is a form of trauma that impacts a child’s cognitive, physical, social and emotional development. Its effects often last a lifetime. Every year, more than 3 million reports of child abuse are made in the United States involving more than 6 million children (a report can include multiple children).

I’m sorry to say the United States has one of the worst records of child abuse among industrialized nations.

Child abuse is broadly defined in many states as any type of cruelty inflicted upon a child, including mental abuse, physical harm, neglect and sexual abuse or exploitation. No child is immune from being a victim of child abuse or neglect, although girls are more often the victims of sexual abuse than boys.

Although the incidents of child abuse and neglect have been declining in recent years, in 2012 at least 686,000 children in the United States – almost one in 100 children – were abused.

More than 57 percent of child abuse cases are made to the DSS or Child Protective Services by professionals who come in contact with the child, including teachers, lawyers, police officers and social workers. However 18 percent come from nonprofessional sources such as parents, other relatives, friends and neighbors. Anonymous reports accounted for 9 percent of all reports.

If you know any child who is being abused, call the National Child Abuse Hotline at 1-800-422-4453. It is staffed 24 hours a day, seven days a week. All calls are anonymous and confidential.

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