Preventing child abuse is a national priority.
The month of April has been designated National Child Abuse Prevention Month by presidential proclamation since 1983. Amigos’ There’s NO Excuse For Child Abuse® has become the overarching theme of Blue Ribbon abuse prevention initiatives. Since 2004 Amigos has worked in collaboration with both public and private sectors to spread the message and create awareness about child abuse and neglect. Partners include: Miami-Dade County, the City of Miami, Miami-Dade County Public Schools, Miami-Dade Commissioner Rebeca Sosa and other government officials and key stakeholders. Each April, Amigos hosts a series of events to raise awareness and highlight the importance of keeping kids safe. These efforts include a talent show/rally event which Amigos coordinates with Miami-Dade County Public Schools and where thousands of students participate. In addition, Amigos distributes more than 380,000 informational abuse prevention pamphlets to students and their parents in Miami-Dade’s public schools and community events. These informational pieces are available in English, Spanish and Creole.
The national Blue Ribbon initiative began in 1989 when Bonnie W. Finney, a grandmother from Virginia, tied a blue ribbon to the antenna of her van. When asked about it, she told people the tragic story of the abuse of her grandchildren and the resulting death of her grandson Michael “Bubba” Dickinson. She chose blue to remind herself of the bruised bodies of her grandchildren. Since then, millions of people across the country have participated in Blue Ribbon campaigns by wearing blue ribbons and getting involved in community activities to remind people they too can help prevent child abuse in their communities.
Recent national statistics confirm that almost one million children don’t know what it’s like to be safe and sound in their homes. Tragically, three children —of all races, genders and socioeconomic backgrounds— die each day as a result of abuse or neglect.
“We need to raise the public’s awareness of the devastating effects of child abuse. To empower and encourage people to become involved and support families and parents so that we can help prevent all forms of child abuse and neglect from reaching our nation’s children,” said Jorge A. Plasencia, cofounder and chairman of Amigos For Kids. “We’re committed to raising awareness of the devastating effects of child abuse.”
Recent reports indicate that nearly 900,000 children were found to be victims of abuse or neglect.
Of these children, an estimated 1,760 died, almost 80 percent of whom were 4 years old or younger. Statistics; Department of Health and Human Services Administration for Children and Families Administration on Children, Youth and Families Chidren’s Bureau-Child Maltreatment 2007.
900,000 children were victims of child abuse
Most children were abused by a parent or caregiver.
These young girls and boys depend on adults to recognize the risk factors and warning signs of abuse and to take action to end it. Parents, teachers, coaches, religious leaders, government officials and concerned citizens in every community share this important responsibility.
Abuse is defined as any willful act or threatened act that results in any physical, mental or sexual injury or harm that causes or is likely to cause the child’s physical, mental or emotional health to be significantly impaired.
Abuse is defined as negligence, physical, sexual or emotional and statistics from 2006 indicate the following:
Despite the efforts of the child protection system, child fatalities remain a serious problem. Although the untimely deaths of children due to illness and accidents have been closely monitored, deaths that result from physical assault or severe neglect can be more difficult to track. Intervention strategies targeted at resolving this problem face complex challenges.
The National Child Abuse and Neglect Data System (NCANDS) reported an estimated 1,530 child fatalities in 2006. This translates to a rate of two children per 100,000 children in the general population. NCANDS defines a child fatality as the death of a child caused by an injury resulting from abuse or neglect, or where abuse or neglect were contributing factors.
Many researchers and practitioners believe child fatalities due to abuse and neglect are still underreported. Studies in Colorado and North Carolina have estimated that as many as 50 to 60% of child deaths resulting from abuse or neglect are not recorded as such (Crume, DiGuiseppi, Byers, Sirotnak, & Garrett, 2002; Herman-Giddens et al., 1999).
The rate of child abuse and neglect fatalities reported by NCANDS has increased slightly over the last year from 1.96 per 100,000 children in 2005 to 2.04 in 2006. However, experts don’t agree whether this represents an actual increase in child abuse and neglect fatalities, or whether it may be attributed to improvements in reporting procedures. For example, statistics on approximately 17.6% of fatalities were from health departments and fatality review boards for 2006, compared to 18.5% for 2005, an indication of greater coordination of data collection among agencies.
Issues affecting the accuracy and consistency of child fatality data include:
A number of studies, including those funded by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, have suggested that more accurate counts of maltreatment deaths are obtained by linking multiple reporting sources, including death certificates, crime reports, child protective services reports and child death review records (Mercy, Barker, & Frazier, 2006).
Research indicates very young children (ages three and younger) are the most frequent victims of child fatalities. NCANDS data for 2006 demonstrated children younger than a year old accounted for 44.2% of fatalities, while children younger than four years old accounted for more than three-quarters of fatalities. This population of children is the most vulnerable for many reasons, including their dependency, small size and inability to defend themselves.
In 2006, 41.1% of child maltreatment fatalities were associated with neglect alone. Physical abuse alone was cited in almost one-quarter (22.4%) of reported fatalities. Another 31.4% of fatalities were the result of multiple maltreatment types.
No matter how the fatal abuse occurs, one area of great concern is that the perpetrators are, by definition, individuals responsible for the care and supervision of their victims. In 2006, one or both parents were involved in 76% of child abuse or neglect fatalities. Approximately 15% of fatalities were the result of maltreatment by nonparent caretakers and the remaining 9.5% represents unknown or missing information.
There’s no single profile of a perpetrator of fatal child abuse, although certain characteristics reappear in many studies. In many instances, the perpetrator has experienced violence first-hand. Most fatalities from physical abuse are caused by fathers and other male caretakers. Mothers are most often held responsible for deaths resulting from child neglect (U.S. Advisory Board on Child Abuse and Neglect, 1995).
Crume, T., DiGuiseppi, C., Byers, T., Sirotnak, A., & Garrett, C. (2002). Underascertainment of child maltreatment fatalities by death certificates, 1990-98. Pediatrics, 110(2). Retrieved April 27, 2007, from http://pediatrics.aappublications.org/cgi/reprint/110/2/e18.pdf (PDF – 76 KB)
Hargrove, T., & Bowman, L. (2007). Saving babies: Exposing sudden infant death in America. Scripps Howard News Service. Retrieved April 17, 2008, from http://scrippsnews.s10113.gridserver.com/node/1
Herman-Giddens, M., Brown, G., Verbiest, S., Carlson, P., Hooten, E., Howell, E., et al. (1999). Underascertainment of child abuse mortality in the United States. Journal of the American Medical Association, 282(5), 463-467.
Mercy, J. A., Barker, L., & Frazier, L. (2006). The secrets of the National Violent Death Reporting System. Injury Prevention, 12(Suppl. 2), ii1–ii2. Retrieved April 30, 2007, from http://dx.doi.org/10.1136/ip.2006.012542
National Center for Child Death Review. (2007). Child death review findings: A road map for MCH injury and violence prevention; Part I [PowerPoint Presentation]. Retrieved April 7, 2008, from www.childrenssafetynetwork.org/presentation/webinar.asp
U.S. Advisory Board on Child Abuse and Neglect. (1995). A nation’s shame: Fatal child abuse and neglect in the United States. Washington, DC: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. Retrieved April 30, 2007, from http://ican-ncfr.org/documents/Nations-Shame.pdf (PDF – 2390 KB)
U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Children’s Bureau. (2008). Child maltreatment 2006. Washington, DC: U.S. Government Printing Office. Retrieved April 2008 from www.acf.hhs.gov/programs/cb/pubs/cm06/index.htm
Both federal and state legislatures define abuse and negligence of minors in specific terms. Federal legislation stipulates the base for states to identify a minimum group of acts or behavior that characterize physical abuse, negligence and sexual abuse. State of Florida Statutes – Definitions
Fla. Stat. Ann. § 39.01(West, Westlaw through End of 2003 Reg. Sess.)
Fla. Stat. Ann. § 39.01(2), (30)(f), (45) (West, Westlaw through End of 2003 Reg. Sess.)
Corporal discipline of a child by a parent, legal custodian or caregiver for disciplinary purposes does not in itself constitute abuse when it does not result in harm to the child.
A parent or legal custodian who, by reason of legitimate practice of religious beliefs, doesn’t provide specified medical treatment for a child may not be considered abusive or neglectful for that reason alone, but such exception does not:
FS39.201 Mandatory reports of child abuse, abandonment, neglect; mandatory reports of death; central abuse hotline. (1)(a) Any person who knows, or has reasonable cause to suspect, that a child is abused, abandoned, or neglected by a parent, legal custodian, caregiver, or other person responsible for the child’s welfare, as defined in this chapter, shall report such knowledge or suspicion to the department.
Fla. Stat. Ann. § 39.205(1)-(2) (West, WESTLAW through 2003 Reg. Sess.)
A person who is required by law to report known or suspected child abuse, abandonment, or neglect and who knowingly and willfully fails to do so, or who knowingly and willfully prevents another person from doing so is guilty of a misdemeanor of the first degree, punishable as provided by law. A judge subject to discipline as provided by the Florida Constitution shall not be subject to criminal prosecution when the information was received in the course of official duties.
We all have a role to play in building strong communities in which families and children are valued and supported.
It is in these kinds of communities that children are safest from abuse and neglect. Here are some things you can do as a concerned individual.
Prevent Child Abuse America has developed the following Five Rs, which can help individuals better understand the role they can play in child abuse prevention.
Call or write your candidates and elected officials to educate them about issues in your community and the need for child abuse prevention, intervention and treatment programs.
Contact your local school district and faith community to encourage them to sponsor classes and support programs for new parents.
Anything you do to support kids and parents in your family and extended community help to reduce the likelihood of child abuse and neglect.
Be a good neighbor. Offer to baby-sit. Donate your children’s used clothing, furniture and toys for use by another family. Be kind and supportive, particularly to new parents and children.
Child abuse and neglect occur in all segments of our society, but the risk factors are greater in families where parents:
Some of the warning signs that a child might be abused or neglected include:
If you suspect abuse or neglect is occurring, report it—and keep reporting it—until something is done. Contact child protective services (in your local phone book) or your local police department.
The following programs may be offered through schools, healthcare clinics, social service agencies or community or faith-based organizations:
Year Published: 2007
The first step in helping abused or neglected children is learning to recognize the signs of child abuse and neglect. The presence of a single sign doesn’t prove child abuse is occurring in a family; however, when these signs appear repeatedly or in combination, you should take a closer look at the situation and consider the possibility of child abuse.
If you do suspect a child is being harmed, reporting your suspicions may protect the child and get help for the family. Contact your local child protective services agency or police department.
The following signs may signal the presence of child abuse or neglect.
The following are some signs often associated with the four particular types of child abuse and neglect: physical abuse, neglect, sexual abuse and emotional abuse. It’s important to note, however, these types of abuse are more typically found in combination than alone. A physically abused child, for example, is often emotionally abused as well, and a sexually abused child also may be neglected.
It is the responsibility of each and everyone of us to protect our most precious resource, our children.
More useful information.
Abandoned means a situation in which the parent or legal custodian of a child, or in the absence of a parent or legal custodian, the caregiver responsible for the child’s welfare, while being able, makes no provision for the child’s support and makes no effort to communicate with the child, which situation is sufficient to evince a willful rejection of parental obligations. If the efforts of such parent or legal custodian, or caregiver primarily responsible for the child’s welfare, to support and communicate with the child are, in the opinion of the court, only marginal efforts that do not evince a settled purpose to assume all parental duties, the court may declare the child to be abandoned.
Abuse means any willful act or threatened act that results in any physical, mental, or sexual injury or harm that causes or is likely to cause the child’s physical, mental, or emotional health to be significantly impaired. Abuse of a child includes acts or omissions.
Child who is found to be dependent means a child who is found by the court:
Harm to a child’s health or welfare can occur when any person:
Mental injury means an injury to the intellectual or psychological capacity of a child as evidenced by a discernible and substantial impairment in the ability to function within the normal range of performance and behavior.
Neglect occurs when a child is deprived of, or is allowed to be deprived of, necessary food, clothing, shelter or medical treatment or a child is permitted to live in an environment when such deprivation or environment causes a child’s physical, mental or emotional health to be significantly impaired or to be in danger of being significantly impaired.
Other person responsible for a child’s welfare includes the child’s legal guardian, legal custodian, or foster parent; an employee of a private school, public or private child day care center, residential home, institution, facility, or agency; or any other person legally responsible for the child’s welfare in a residential setting; and also includes an adult sitter or relative entrusted with a child’s care.
Physical injury means death, permanent or temporary disfigurement or impairment of any bodily part.
Sexual abuse of a child means one or more of the following acts:
Victim means any child who has sustained or is threatened with physical, mental or emotional injury identified in a report involving child abuse, neglect, abandonment or child-on-child sexual abuse.
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