The number of tragedies involving children has risen substantially in recent years and there is something we all can do to help it. It’s almost scary to open a newspaper or turn on the evening news because no one wants to hear about anyone getting hurt especially a young child. The reality is that it’s happening. The severity can be seen in local cases such as the Owen Collins case in Bluffton and national tragedies.
Knowing the signs of child abuse can help this situation in a major way. Everyone has the responsibility to report child abuse if they suspect it is happening. There are 10 common signs of child abuse to be on the lookout for.
A child has unexplained injuries such as unexplained bruises or burns that may be in the shape of objects. The explanations are unconvincing and do not explain the injury.
*A noticeable change in behavior such as the child appearing afraid, anxious, depressed, withdrawn or more aggressive.
*Abused children may display behaviors shown at earlier ages such as thumb sucking or bed wetting.
*Fear of going home.
*Changes in eating which can lead to weight gain or weight loss.
*Changes in sleeping. Abused children may have frequent nightmares or difficulty falling asleep.
*Abused children may have difficulty concentrating or have excessive absences from school.
*Lack of personal care or hygiene. Abused children may be uncared for, appear dirty and have severe body odor.
*Risk taking behavior such as using drugs or carrying a weapon.
*Inappropriate sexual behaviors towards themselves or others. Abused children may also use explicit sexual language.
If you suspect a child is a victim of child abuse then report it immediately! The child abuse hotline number is 1-800-800-5556. The reporter can remain anonymous and will not be required to partake in judicial proceedings. If you do not remember the hotline number then notify the local police.
Remember that a child who has been abused will be afraid. Keep calm! Make sure the child knows that you believe them. Other things to remember are to show interest and concern as well as reassure and support the child when speaking to the child. Most important is to take action! It’s everyone’s responsibility to report and protect a child from abuse. More information can be found on the Indiana website: www.in.gov/dcs.
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