Child abuse is all around us. It goes on largely unnoticed because we’ve been taught to mind our business and not look for trouble. This is ugly business and in our culture we tend to hand off that sort of thing to the government. So with the best of intentions we set up chronically underfunded and understaffed agencies and tasked them with identifying and serving the most vulnerable children in our society. A new bar in wishful thinking.
In reality, most abused and neglected children spend their childhood quietly enduring their days, completely under the radar.
It’s disingenuous to expect some random government agency to know what’s going on under our noses. It really does take a village to keep our children safe: all of us educating ourselves, paying attention and being proactive. As a nation, we need to get reacquainted with the notion that there is no such thing as somebody else’s child.
Here are some things you should know:
CHILD ABUSE IS PREVENTABLE
Studies show that child abuse can be prevented through Parenting Skills Education and other Child Abuse Prevention programs. This is not rocket science. It has been known for years. But these programs are expensive and the government is not going to fund them. It’s up to individual communities to raise the funds and develop the needed programs.
VICTIMS OF CHILD ABUSE CAN BE IDENTIFIED
There are specific signs to look for and specific behaviors. Learn the most common Signs of Child Abuse and Child Sexual Abuse and then pay attention! It’s right in front of you.
YOU DON’T HAVE TO BE SURE IT’S ABUSE
Once you know the signs of child abuse, listen to your gut. If you have a bad feeling about some kid you know and you can’t explain it away, call Child Services. You don’t have to be sure. You just have to be worried or suspicious. Determining whether there is child abuse is someone else’s job. Your job is to get that kid on the radar immediately. Regardless of the outcome of the investigation, you have no liability and no one needs to know you reported it.
THE DAMAGE CAUSED BY CHILD ABUSE IS TREATABLE
Victims of child abuse suffer permanent brain damage that can be visualized with existing technology. About 80% of 21 year olds that were abused as children met criteria for at least one psychological disorder.(1) These are the walking wounded. They managed to squeak by with their lives and more or less hang on to normalcy as best they’re able, but the fallout of their abuse will follow them for the rest of their lives. The damage is not curable, but it can be treated and the sooner these children enter therapy, the better the outcome. Many children can move on with ongoing therapy and support. The most damaged children need long term residential treatment to undo the years of neglect and maltreatment. Unfortunately, this type of treatment doesn’t exist in the United States any more. It’s very costly and insurance companies did away with it years ago. So instead of treating the most damaged children, we shuffle them from foster home to foster home to be managed by untrained foster parents. The results make the headlines on a regular basis.
Here’s What You Can Do
- Learn to recognize abuse. Read the Signs of Child Abuse, the Signs of Child Sexual Abuse, and the Myths of Child Sexual Abuse.
- Report suspected abuse or neglect. If you have reason to believe a child has been or may be harmed, call the Florida Abuse Hotline at (800) 962-2873, or the national Child Abuse Hotline at 1-800-4-A-CHILD (1-800-422-4453)
- Volunteer. Find a Child Abuse Prevention program in your community and give them a few hours each week. In today’s economy small community organizations have to pour most of their funds into serving their constituents. Very little is left over for paid staff. Volunteers keep these vital programs open. Contact us for volunteering opportunities in South Miami or visit VolunteerMatch and find an organization near you.
- Partner with us. We will bring our Child Abuse Prevention program to your School, Place of Worship or Community Center in South Florida. Contact us to find out how we can work together.
- Donate. Give generously so that we can continue to provide child abuse prevention programs and long term treatment for damaged children in our community.
- Stay informed. Subscribe to our Newsletter to receive regular updates and event notices.