By: Alison Colyer
To promote awareness of child abuse, Congress has declared the month of April, National Child Abuse Prevention Month.
Approximately five children die every day from abuse in the United States. Most children first become victims of abuse and/or neglect at 18 months or younger. In 2010, 1573 children died of abuse or neglect in America; 79.4% of them were under the age of four. Of that number, 47.7% were under the age of one. About 80% of twenty-one year olds who were abused as children met criteria for at least one psychological disorder. Child abuse victims as young as 3 years of age have shown signs of depression and withdrawal symptoms.
Most people shy away from reporting suspected cases of child abuse. Some are afraid to report child abuse because they fear the suspected abuser will find out who turned them in. But you don’t have to be worried because reporting can be done anonymously. More importantly, if you suspect children are being abused, it is critical to get them they help they need as soon as possible.
In addition to reporting any cases of abuse, there is more that you can do to get involved in preventing child abuse. For instance, you can encourage local service providers to produce a directory of available services in the community or attend local government meeting and express your concern about available resources for reporters and victims.
We should all join together to end child abuse. As Herbert Ward once said, “Child abuse casts a shadow the length of a lifetime.”