In 2010, about 3.3 million reports were made to child protective services
regarding the safety and well-being of approximately 5.9 million children,
according to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. Of these
reports, 1,560 children died due to child abuse or neglect. When a child
does not receive the love, nurturing or basic necessities they need to
prosper; the lifelong effects can be detrimental to their physical, psychological,
and/or behavioral health.
Child abuse and neglect most often takes place in the home at the hands
of someone the child knows well, such as a parent, relative, babysitter
or friend of the family.
There are many factors that relate to an increased risk of child abuse
and neglect. Some risk factors include young mothers and fathers who are
unprepared for the responsibilities of raising a child, single parents
with little support and families placed under stress by poverty, divorce
or a child’s disability. Many of these factors, combined with the
stress of raising a child, can result in well-meaning parents causing
their children harm or neglecting their needs.
Being able to spot the warning signs is the first step in helping a child
you suspect is being abused. Below are warning signs and symptoms to look
for provided by childwelfare.gov:
- Signs of malnutrition.
- Poor hygiene.
- Unattended physical or mental problems.
- Extremes in behavior, ranging from overly aggressive to overly passive.
- Delayed physical, emotional, or intellectual development.
- Pain, bleeding, redness, or swelling in anal or genital area.
- Age-inappropriate sexual play with toys, self, or others.
- Age-inappropriate sex knowledge.
- Unexplained bruises or welts.
- Child appears frightened or a parent or caregiver.
If you suspect that a child is being abused or neglected you must report
what you know to your county’s Department of Social Services, you
may be the one that saves the child’s life. The number for Catawba
County DSS is 828/695-5600. You can also call the ChildHelp National Child
Abuse Hotline at 800/4-A-CHILD (800/422-4453).