Child Abuse Prevention Month – what constitutes abuse?

Ron Craig, Crime Prevention/Community Policing Officer

        April is Child Abuse Prevention Month. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, child abuse affects millions of children under 18 and costs Americans $592 billion each year.
        There are several types of child abuse; most people think immediately of physical abuse. Physical abuse in children is the intentional inflicting of physical force that can result in physical harm to the child. Examples of physical abuse include hitting, kicking, burning and shaking a child.
        Sexual abuse involves pressuring or forcing a child to engage in sexual acts. It includes fondling, and exposing a child to sexual behavior and activities.
        There is also emotional abuse, which harms a child’s self-worth or emotional wellbeing. Examples of this abuse can be name calling and belittling, among other things.
        Neglect is also a form of child abuse. Examples of neglect are withholding of material needs such as food, clothing, education, and access to medical care.
        These are just some of the examples of child abuse and many times the lines between the various types of abuse are blurred as some cases involve more than one type of abuse.
        The CDC estimates that one in seven children face abuse.
        Child abuse may not be easy to spot. Unexplained injuries such as bruising may or may not be a sign of abuse. If abuse is suspected, an investigation by law enforcement or another professional is necessary.
        School officials, including teachers, are in a good position to spot abuse. Others who may be able to observe the signs of child abuse include family members, including grandparents, and caregivers.
        Many times, a change in the child’s behavior may be a sign of abuse. Sudden withdrawal from friends and usual activities can be a sign. Not wanting to attend school is often a sign of abuse, especially among kids who used to like school.
        Some people are bound by law to report possible child abuse, such as medical personnel, law enforcement personnel, and school officials.
        If you suspect a child is a victim of abuse, you should report it to school, law enforcement or an agency such as Children’s Services. Keeping silent about a possible case of abuse could result in more harm to the child.
        This article is a public service from the Community Policing/Crime Prevention Division of the Lake Township Police Department. Township residents may obtain further information on crime prevention and public safety topics by contacting Ron Craig, crime prevention specialist/community policing officer, at 419-481-6354.


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