April is Child Abuse Prevention Month
From the Crossing Rivers Health Pediatrics team, a cross-departmental team focused on providing personalized care for young patients
According to the Wisconsin Department of Children and Families, between 4,000 and 5,000 children are confirmed as abused or neglected in Wisconsin every year. Understanding what child abuse is, we can work to prevent the abuse or neglect before it occurs.
What is abuse?
- Physical abuse is the intentional use of physical force that can result in physical harm. Examples include hitting, kicking, shaking, burning, or other shows of force against a child.
- Sexual abuse (including sex trafficking) involves pressuring or forcing a child to engage in sexual acts. It includes behaviors such as fondling, penetration, and exposing a child to other sexual activities.
- Emotional abuse refers to behaviors that harm a child’s self-worth or emotional well-being. Examples include name-calling, shaming, rejection, withholding love, and threatening.
- Neglect is the failure to meet a child’s basic physical and emotional needs. These needs include housing, food, clothing, education, and access to medical care.
- Unborn child abuse is harm inflicted on the unborn child and the risk of serious physical harm to the child when born.
- Substance abuse or manufacturing of methamphetamine is when an adult’s substance use endangers a child or causes the adult to hurt the child.
Effects of child abuse
Negative events that happen to a child can stay with them for the rest of their life and are called adverse childhood experiences (ACEs). These ACEs can have an impact through adulthood by creating an increased risk for:
- Future violence
- Being a victim
- Chronic health problems
- Mental health illness
- Negatively impacting education and job opportunities
Preventing child abuse
Through prevention, we can reduce the risk of child abuse and help protect the little ones in our communities. Understanding the risk factors and sharing resources can help prevent the abuse. Risk factors include:
- Being a child younger than four years old
- Caregiver stress
- Decreased understanding of child needs, development, and parenting skills
- Parent history of being abused or neglected themselves
- Parent history of substance abuse and/or mental illness
- Low income, young parents, single parents, social isolation, lack of support from family or friends
- Non-biological caregiver in the home
- Community violence
Prevention is key. How can these situations be prevented?
- An increase in primary care
- Participation in parenting classes or through parenting education
- An increase in social support relationships and creating connections with other parents
- Access to child care
- Ability to create a safe, stable, and nurturing relationship
- Through awareness of resources available such as support networks, community, internet, friends, and family
- Reassurance that it’s okay to ask for help
- Make time for yourself- enjoy the simple things that you enjoy to help renew
- Enjoy spending quality time with family
- Create a plan for dealing with stress, relaxation, coping with stress. Click the link below to learn more about creating a stress plan.
Help is available. Below are some resources that we hope are helpful.
- Crawford County Extension office from University of Wisconsin-Madison
- Crawford County Community Resource Guide
- Crawford County Family and Child Program
- Just in Time Parenting is a free parenting newsletter that is delivered by email and specific to a child’s age and needs from prenatal to five years old.
- Text4baby.org is a free program that sends expectant mothers or new mothers free text messages with pregnancy tips and parenting tips to care for their babies. The messages are timed to a baby's due date or birth date.
- The Period of Purple Crying addresses the age when babies cry more than any other time and equips caregivers with strategies to soothe the baby and cope with stress.
- This Quality Time poster reminds parents that all children need and want quality time from parents and provides examples of how to spend quality time.
- The Feelings Thermometer is a visual tool that helps people of all ages measure how they are doing emotionally and what steps they can take to shift their mood when things are getting tough.