National Child Abuse Prevention Month

This post was written by Bryanna McDaniel, the Care Coordinator at ACHD Women, Infants, and Children Program.

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As the year progresses, NHC members are slowly blooming into public health professionals. We have been able to team up with local agencies and nonprofits to help identify and address issues that have become problematic in our communities. As AmeriCorps members, we know that we can be of help when it comes to improving current preventative efforts in our community-- including the efforts that help maintain a safe environment for children.

For many, child abuse and neglect is currently a growing public health issue. Some of our National Health Corps members here in Pittsburgh participate in activities that involve interacting with individuals 18 years or younger.  Since April is National Child Abuse Prevention Month, several members took the initiative and participated in a training regarding identifying and reporting child abuse in the state of Pennsylvania. To be better prepared, members learned the “ins and outs” of reporting and how to suspect that there is an issue.

Child maltreatment can take on many forms including emotional and sexual abuse. It can happen to any child and can have a physiological and/or psychological impact on a person’s life. In the United States, nearly 700,000 cases of suspected child abuse are reported on an annual basis. In 2015, agencies in Pennsylvania received about 40,500 reports of suspected child abuse (11,000 more than in the year 2014) and out of this total 4,200 were substantiated. Allegheny county, where NHC Pittsburgh members serve, had over 2,800 reports of child abuse in the year 2015 (Pennsylvania Department of Human Services, 2015).

To help spread awareness in our communities, we have provided information below that anyone can use to help spot potential problems. Here are some general signs and symptoms that can be seen in children no matter what type of abuse is occurring:

·         Being withdrawn from their usual activities
·         Having an abnormal amount of absences from school
·         Developing depression, phobias, anxiety, or self-depreciating behaviors.
·         Attempts at suicide or running away
·         Sudden change in behavior such as hyper-aggression, or becoming hostile; defiant behavior
·         Noting that they don’t want to go home

Other signs and symptoms that can be linked to child abuse include: fear of going home, frequent injuries with explanations that don’t make sense, poor hygiene, and even the child’s statement claiming that something occurred. 

If you would like more information on identifying child abuse visit this PDF:

https://www.childwelfare.gov/pubPDFs/whatiscan.pdf#page=5&view=Recognizing Signs of Abuse and Neglect

For general information visit:

https://www.childwelfare.gov/topics/can/

If you're concerned and suspect that a child has been abused, seek help immediately.
If the child needs immediate medical attention, call 911 or your local emergency number. Depending on the situation, contact the child's doctor, a local child protective agency, the police department, or a 24-hour hotline such as:
Child Help National Child Abuse Hotline (800-422-4453)
Keep in mind that health care professionals are legally required to report all suspected cases of child abuse to the appropriate county or state authorities.

For Reporting in Pittsburgh
If you suspect that a child may be at risk for abuse or neglect, it is very important that you call and report the problem to the Office of Children, Youth and Families

http://alleghenycounty.us/Human-Services/About/Offices/Children,-Youth-and-Families.aspx

The phone is answered 24/7, including holidays
To report suspected abuse or neglect  412-473-2000  Or toll-free  800-932-0313

 

Pennsylvania Department of Human Services (2015), Annual Child Protective Services Report. Retrieved from:

http://www.dhs.pa.gov/cs/groups/webcontent/documents/document/c_226999.pdf