April is here, and with all that April brings including showers, warmer weather, and longer days, April is also designated as National Child Abuse Prevention Month. During this month, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services asks communities and service organizations to rededicate themselves and focus on being supportive of families, especially those deemed at risk, and play an active role in preventing child abuse and neglect.
The statistics are alarming. Around 65,000 cases of child abuse are confirmed each year by the Children’s Advocacy Center of Texas, and of those cases, approximately 95% of children know their abuse. Of the 43,000 children helped by the CAC in Texas last year:
- 26% were not old enough to attend kindergarten
- 33% of the children were male
- 67% of the children were female
- 68% were victims of sexual abuse.
Child abuse is a crime of secrecy and intimidation, and may often go unreported due to threats of harm to the child, or by instilling fear that if they tell a trusted adult, harm will befall their family. It is imperative that parents, siblings, extended family members, friends, people in the community, and people in the general public who work with children or come in contact report issues if known, or to investigate changes in children’s behavior and be a voice to those who may be too small or too scared to speak up.
When dealing with child abuse, it is important to remember:
- Abuse can happen to anyone. Even in ‘good’ homes with upstanding families.
- Abuse is often a sustained and repeated offense.
- The scars of abuse may not be physical, and can linger for a lifetime
If you are a victim, or if you suspect a child is a victim of child abuse, REPORT IT! You can call 9-1-1, or call the Texas Abuse Hotline at 1-800-252-5400. Additional information is available at www.txabusehotline.org.
Statistics pulled from www.cactx.org