Hundreds of thousands of children yearly suffer from child abuse and neglect. Children with disabilities are at particular risk of experiencing abuse or neglect because they may have difficulties communicating about the abuse. This harmful behavior comes in various forms. To assist and protect child victims of abuse, public awareness is essential. The government, likewise, established agencies and non-governmental organizations to address this issue. In this article, we will discuss the following topics in detail:
Child Abuse Awareness
Child abuse and neglect happen due to a parent or caregiver's actions or failure to act. The result of this presents an imminent risk of serious harm. The abuse can also result in adverse childhood experiences that create long-term effects. The following are the most common types of child abuse and neglect:
Each state defines child maltreatment. Although federal laws set the minimum standards for the states to follow. The definition of child abuse and neglect can often be found in both civil and criminal state laws.
Civil laws guide people who are required to report known or suspected cases of abuse. These laws also assess the grounds for the state child protection agencies to intervene.
Criminal laws define forms of child maltreatment. The prosecution and arrest of offenders are likewise defined under this statute.
Common Signs of Child Abuse and Neglect
When a child experiences abuse or neglect, they are often afraid to mention it to anyone. A child feels this way particularly if the abusive person is a parent, family member, or caregiver. This is why it is necessary to learn about some of the most common warning signs of child abuse and neglect, such as:
- Changes in the child's actions, like hostility, hyperactivity, increased anger, or aggression
- Acting out or not wanting to follow the rules
- Not wanting to do their favorite activities
- Drastic changes in school performance
- Missing school quite often
- Feeling sad, scared, or experiencing a sudden loss of confidence
- The appearance of neglect
- Thinking about hurting themselves or contemplating suicide
A disclaimer to this list is that they are mere warning signs. The signs of abuse may appear depending on various factors. And, just because a child shows some of these signs does not automatically mean they are being abused or neglected.
Organizations That Offer Child Abuse Prevention Programs
The Children's Bureau compiled an extensive list of agencies, nonprofit organizations, and resource centers that handle child abuse. The partnerships aim to combine expertise and resources to address the issue of child abuse and neglect in the country. The following are the top three agencies included in the list:
American Academy of Pediatrics
The American Academy of Pediatrics is a nonprofit organization. The organization produces education and professional training materials on topics about pediatrics. They aim to secure children, infants, and young adults' mental, physical, and social health and well-being.
Children's Advocacy Centers
Children's Advocacy Centers check and treat abused or children at risk of abuse. The center provides a safe shelter for these children and gives a coordinated response to victims of abuse and neglect. They also offer various social services and programs. Included among these services are parenting education and therapeutic counseling. These programs aim to improve the child's mental health and well-being.
Children's Bureau Learning and Coordination Center
The Children's Bureau Learning and Coordination Center provides strategic communication and logistic services to boost engagement and outreach efforts that address issues relevant to child welfare and development.
The Child Welfare Information Gateway describes foster care as the temporary services given by the state to children. Foster care services are usually provided to children who cannot live with their biological parents due to domestic violence, child abuse, or neglect. Family members or unrelated foster parents can give the child's foster care. The term also refers to placing children in residential facilities, emergency shelters, group homes, or supervised independent living arrangements. According to the reports, in June 2020, the foster care system served 672,594 children. The American Academy of Pediatrics provides evidence-based rules and support to pediatricians when caring for children who are in foster care. The following are the most common types of foster care:
Family Foster Care
Children in family foster care are placed with a member of the family or a nonrelative who has been pre-approved by the state. The foster care providers will give the child care, support, and shelter. Sometimes, a whole family can also be involved in family foster care. An entire family foster care usually happens when a parenting youth needs shelter and models in healthy parenting.
Treatment Foster Care
Treatment foster care is given to children and adolescents with specific behavioral, emotional, or medical needs. This type of foster care is designed to provide health care and nurturing to the child in a more structured environment than regular foster care. Treatment foster care is also a cost-effective option used instead of residential treatment. Treatment foster care, or therapeutic foster care, is less restrictive than a residential facility but still offers needed support to the child.
Other Planned Permanent Living Arrangements (OPPLA)
"Other planned permanent living arrangements" (OPPLA) is a term used to replace "long-term foster care." With OPPLA, children are expected to stay in foster care until adulthood. In this situation, the child remains in the custody and maintenance of the child welfare agency. But this foster care service is offered only when other options — such as relative placement, legal guardianship, or adoption—have been ruled out.
Reporting of Child Abuse and Neglect
States have implemented laws to prevent national child abuse cases. Specific individuals must also help children and report known or suspected abuse cases. These people are called "mandatory reporters." They are usually those whose profession involves frequent interaction with children.
It is important to remember that mandatory reporting laws may differ in every state. Some states may require everyone to report known or suspected cases of abuse. In contrast, other states require certain professionals to report the abuse.
Seek Legal Help
The resources for child abuse and neglect can be complicated. On top of that, state laws that address family services may also vary. Thus, seeking legal help is essential. An experienced family law attorney can assist you with preventing child abuse and protective factors. They can also provide valuable referrals to child protective services to secure the child's health and well-being. Furthermore, a family law attorney can guide you on reporting child abuse and direct you to child abuse hotlines.