Since 1983, April has been recognized as Child Abuse Prevention Month. During this time, the nation comes together to ensure that every child can be successful. All children deserve to grow up in a safe, stable, and nurturing environment that is free from abuse and neglect. A child’s long-term development is affected when he or she is a victim of abuse or neglect. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that one in four children have experienced some form of abuse or neglect in the last year. The Child Abuse Prevention and Treatment Act defines child abuse and neglect as; “at minimum, any recent act or failure to act on the part of a parent or caretaker which results in death, serious physical or emotional harm, or sexual abuse or exploitation of a child.”
Child abuse does not discriminate and can happen under any circumstance. It doesn’t matter what a person’s race is, where they live, or what their occupation is. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention research has shown certain risk factors that could determine the likelihood that a child will become a victim of abuse or neglect. These factors include; Victimization – child with special needs; Perpetrator – parents who were abused as a child; Family – violent or dysfunctional family bonds; or Community – high poverty or crime rates. Child abuse can have physical, psychological and behavioral effects on a child. Some may have trouble forming intimate relationships as an adult. When a child has prolonged exposure to stressful situations, it can impact a child’s brain, body, hormones and immune system. Children will also have an increased risk of developing a mental disorder including depression, anxiety, eating disorders, or attempt suicide. A child’s behavior could also be affected. He or she may become a smoker, abuse alcohol or drugs, become a teen parent, experience juvenile arrest or low academic achievement.
Child abuse prevention requires individual, family and community level supporters. Together we can make a difference. Community resources are available to families which include counseling, positive parenting workshops, and prevention programs at school, hospitals, churches, etc. Parents need to make it a priority to work on their mental health and educate themselves more on child development. Once parents gain insight and learn how to effectively deal with their own issues, they will better understand their child’s behavior and react in a healthy and positive manner. Are you or someone you know a victim of child abuse? TCP Marriage & Family Services is here to help. For more information on our services, please call our office at (210) 516-2607 or visit our website at: