April is…National Child Abuse Prevention Month. This month represents an opportunity for each of us as community members and advocates for children to take action on behalf of children and their families. Child Protection is the responsibility of adults. We all have a role to play in the healthy development of children. Let’s work to ensure that every child grows up in a safe, secure and nurturing environment free from abuse and neglect. This month, I want to share with you the 5 types of child abuse, definitions and indicators. These definitions and indicators were extracted from the document Kids Count on You: Protecting Children by Strengthening Families and Stewards of Children. Note: these are indicators and do not necessarily mean that a child is being abused or neglected. Some children will not exhibit any signs.
Physical Abuse-The non-accidental physical injury of a child by a parent or caretaker. Physical abuse is the most visible and widely recognized form of child abuse. Indicators: unexplained burns, bites, broken bones, black eyes
Sexual Abuse-Any sexual act between an adult and a minor, or between two minors, when one exerts power over the other. Sexual abuse includes touching offenses (fondling, sodomy, rape) and non-touching offenses (child prostitution, indecent exposure and using the internet as a vehicle for exploitation). Indicators: has difficulty walking or sitting, torn, stained or bloody clothing, pain or itching in the genital area, reports nightmares or bedwetting, unusual sexual knowledge or behavior, runs away
Emotional Abuse-A pattern of behavior that impairs a child’s emotional development or sense of self-worth. It frequently occurs as verbal abuse, but can also include the following: rejection, terrorizing, shameful forms of punishment, withholding physical and emotional contact, developmentally inappropriate expectations. Indicators: delayed in physical or emotional development, rocking or head-banging, shows extremes in behavior such as being overly compliant, demanding or aggressive
Neglect-The failure of a parent, guardian or other caregiver to provide for a child’s basic needs such as food, clothing, medical, educational and emotional. Indicators: is frequently absent, begs or steals food or money, lacks sufficient clothes for the weather, states that there is no one at home to provide care
Commercial Sexual Exploitation of Children-The buying, selling or trading of sex acts with a child. Indicators: branding or tattooing, an older boyfriend or male friend or relative, possession of large amounts of money, withdrawn and uncommunicative, runs away
During the month of April, you may see pinwheels in your community. Pinwheels are a symbol of the great childhoods that all children deserve. Consider planting a pinwheel garden and use the garden as an opportunity to start a conversation with your neighbors about your intentions for protecting children.
Resource Spotlight: The Georgia Center for Child Advocacy
The Georgia Center for Child Advocacy is a private, non-profit agency that was established in 1987. The Center’s mission is to champion the needs of sexually and severely physically abused children through prevention, intervention, therapy, and collaboration. These services are provided at no cost to children who reside in or were abused in DeKalb or Fulton County. The Georgia Center for Child Advocacy’s role throughout the criminal investigation is to focus on the child’s needs, rather than focusing on the crime itself.
Call to Action: What will you commit to doing this month to protect a child?
– Consider mentoring a child or family
– Advocate for policies that support children and families
– Write or call your elected officials and tell them to make children and families a priority
– Plant a pinwheel garden
– Post to social media your intentions to protect children and ways others can get involved (#pinwheelsforprevention)
– Donate to organizations whose missions are to protect children. Consider donating to Prevent Child Abuse Georgia; The Georgia Center for Child Advocacy; or Darkness to Light
If a child is in immediate danger, please call 911. To report abuse or neglect, please call the Georgia DFACS Call Center at 1-855-GACHILD (1-855-422-4453) 24 hours/7 days a week.
If you need help or a referral, please call 1-800-CHILDREN (1-800-244-5373).
In His service,
Please feel free to contact Virginia for further information at [email protected]