What is Child Abuse?
Laws vary by state but in a majority of states there are four types of abuse: physical abuse, neglect, sexual abuse and emotional abuse. In some states, abandonment and/or substance abuse are also forms of child abuse. To check the laws in your state, visit childwelfare.gov.
Last year, roughly 4000 children were victims of child abuse in Nebraska alone. We can all work to prevent child abuse. Here’s how we can make the world safer for children.
As a Parent:
• Listen. Children rarely make up stories about abuse. If a child discloses to you an account of being abused, take it seriously.
• Know your child’s routine and who they interact with, such as teachers and caregivers, bus drivers and neighbors.
• Your child’s ability to communicate their likes and dislikes is their first line of defense. Teach them to use their voice. Then, respect their feelings when they tell you, and they will have the confidence to assert themselves if someone tries to hurt them.
• You know your child’s normal behavior and body language. If a new and disturbing behavior or thought pattern emerges or re-emerges or their physical appearance drastically changes, look into the cause.
• When you examine your child at bath time or while changing clothes, if you notice signs of physical abuse, take your child to the emergency room immediately.
As a Community:
• Get to know your neighbors. By building those healthy and positive relationships you let them know that support is available if they feel overwhelmed. In return, that support will be available if you need help.
• Be knowledgeable of the available resources in the community that you can suggest to an under-resourced parent.
• Offer to babysit or run errands for a friend or family member without access to childcare.
• Volunteer at schools, faith-based organizations, community events and hospitals that support children and families.
• Learn to recognize and report signs of child abuse and neglect. Reporting is not an accusation. It is a request for an assessment to determine if help is needed.
Anyone can report an incident or suspected incident of child abuse. If you become aware or suspect that a child is a victim of abuse call the Childhelp National Hotline 800-4-A-CHILD or visit childwelfare.gov to identify your state’s local toll-free hotline. If the child is in immediate danger, dial 911.