“Children are suffering from a hidden epidemic of child abuse and neglect,” reports the website Childhelp.com. “Every year, 3.3 million reports of child abuse are made in the United States involving nearly 6 million children. The United States has the worst record in the industrialized nation — losing five children every day due to abuse-related deaths”.
To help combat these staggering statistics, every year in April, the President of the United States issues a proclamation to announce National Child Abuse Prevention Month.
Raising a family takes courage, patience, knowledge and love. Every family has a unique set of skills that they use to face challenges. No matter how strong your family is, there is always room for increased understanding and communication.
Child maltreatment often takes place in the home and many times is committed by a person the child knows and trusts including a parent, relative, baby sitter or family friend. Often, people who mistreat children are ordinary people caught in stressful situations.
Child abuse is more than causing bruises or broken bones. While physical abuse is shocking due to the scars it leaves, not all child abuse is as obvious.
Ignoring children’s needs, putting them in unsupervised, dangerous situations or making a child feel worthless or stupid are also examples of child abuse.
Regardless of the type of child abuse, whether physical, sexual, emotional or neglect, the core element that ties them together is the emotional effect on the child. Emotional scarring has long-lasting effects throughout life, damaging a child’s sense of self, ability to have healthy relationships and ability to function at home, at work and at school.
Anyone can report suspected child abuse or neglect. Reporting abuse or neglect can protect a child and get help for a family; it may even save a child’s life.
Remember that this month is “Child Abuse Prevention Month,” so please join in to support the children throughout Tennessee by wearing blue on Friday, April 5.
—By BRENDA HANNAH, 4-H/FCH Extension Agent (The University of Tennessee Extension Service of Moore County offers its programs to all eligible persons regardless of race, color, age, national origin, veteran status or disability)