Child abuse and neglect are major public concerns in the United States. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), in 2015, more than 1,600 children died due to abuse and neglect, while, as per the Child Protective Services (CSP), more than 680,000 children were victims of child abuse.
In addition, the National Survey of Children’s Exposure to Violence (NatSCEV) has reported that at least one in every four children suffered abuse or neglect at some point in his/her life and at least one in seven children underwent abuse in the past year.
To prevent such incidents and to create awareness against child abuse, the month of April is observed as the National Child Abuse and Prevention Month (NCAPM) by the Children’s Bureau, a part of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS). The aim behind observing the month as NCAPM is to raise emotionally healthy and strong children.
Preventing child abuse
The CDC categorizes child abuse and neglect into four common types – physical abuse, sexual abuse, emotional abuse and neglect. Child abuse can have serious repercussions on the physical and psychological health of a child. Therefore, parents, teachers, guardians and caretakers must be vigilant to be able to detect any kind of child abuse.
However, all said and done, prevention is always better than cure. Listed below are some strategies which can help prevent child abuse and ensure safe and healthy upbringing for our future generations:
Nurturing: Children are innocent and vulnerable. They need to be told every day that they are very special. They should be made to feel that the parents love them and care for them. This will instill a lot of confidence in them. A neglected child often has a chance of going astray and thus becomes susceptible to abuse.
Ensuring good health: A child must not be deprived of basic necessities, such as healthy food, health care facilities, proper sleep and the likes. Denying them basic necessities is an act of neglect which may again lead to disorientation in them.
Being watchful: Guardians and parents must keep a track of what their child is doing during and after school hours, what sports he/she is playing, his/her friend circle, the kind of shows he/she watches, etc. All these activities can have a huge impact on his/her impressionable mind. The adults at home should also be watchful of how they behave in front of their child. They should avoid violence or abusive behavior at all costs.
Disciplining: There is a difference in being a disciplining parent and being a dictator. While it is important to teach children about what is wrong and what is right around them, it is also imperative that one refrains from using harsh words or corporal punishment as this can cause a lifetime of scarring.
Avoiding substance use: One must act responsibly in front of children by refraining from using alcohol or any other substance. Child abuse is often triggered by addiction or substance use. Therefore, adults must refrain from indulging in substance use when children are around.
Teaching them to speak up: A parent or a guardian must teach their child about subtle signs of abuse. They must encourage the child to communicate openly with them. Children must also be taught to raise an alarm in case they feel that any advances towards them are inappropriate or make them cringe or uncomfortable.
Raise your voice: Child abuse can have debilitating consequences on the entire life of the child if support is not instituted on a timely basis. Children who suffer abuse at a young age might become resilient. It is important to assure them that it is not their fault and they too have a right to lead a happy and secure life.
Recovery road map
As adults, we must assure our children that healing and recovery are very much possible and for this we must seek appropriate support without any delay. Recovery is not possible in isolation. Sovereign Health is there to help.
Sovereign Health is more than a behavioral health treatment facility. We do treat, but we also inform and educate and get involved in creating awareness. We stay abreast of the latest developments and advancements in the field of behavioral health and addiction treatment. We conduct webinars, forums and events with the goal to educate and reduce the stigma associated with mental health and substance use disorders. For more information, contact our 24/7 helpline.