Amigos For Kids®, Inc.

There is no excuse for child abuse

Preventing child abuse is a national priority.

2017 Blue Ribbon Campaign Sponsors

The Children's Trust Report Child Abuse
sponsorsMiami Dade Public schoolsDivision of Student Services




Awareness is key

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 300,000 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.

Amigos For Kids – There’s NO Excuse For Child Abuse Blue Ribbon contest was instituted in 2009 and recognizes the art and messages submitted by Miami Dade County Public Schools’ Students. The 2017 contest is sponsored by Voya Financial.

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, co-founder and chairman of Amigos For Kids. “We’re committed to raising awareness of the devastating effects of child abuse.”

Did You Know?

For 2014, a nationally estimated 1,580 children died of abuse and neglect at a rate of 2.13 per 100,000 children in the national population.

Over 3.6 million cases of abuse or neglect were reported according to most recent annual data.

  • Over 4 children die every day as a result of abuse or neglect.
  • 70.7% or more were under the age of 3.
  • Four-fifths of fatalities involved at least one parent.

Forms of maltreatment:

  • 75% suffered neglect.
  • 17% suffered physical abuse.
  • 8.3% suffered sexual abuse.
  • 6% suffered physical maltreatment.
  • 2.2% suffered medical neglect.

Most children were abused by a parent or caregiver.

  • 40.7% = Mother
  • 20.5% = Father
  • 21.3 % = Mother/Father
  • 12.6 % = other relative

References: US Department of Health & Human Services Administration of Children and Families. Administration of Children, Youth and Families; Children’s Bureau.

Victims in their first year of life had the highest rate of victimization at 24.4 per 1,000 children of the same age in the national population. The rate of victimization for all victims increased from 9.2 per 1,000 in 2010 to 9.4 per 1,000 in 2014. However, the data reveals that the increase is largely driven by victims under a year old.

The majority of victims were comprised of three races or ethnicities—White (44.0%), Hispanic (21.8%), and African-American (21.0%).

Children died from abuse or neglect:

    • The national rate of child fatalities was 2.20 deaths per 100,000 children.
    • Nearly three-quarters (70.3%) of all child fatalities were younger than 3 years old.
    • Four-fifths (80.0%) of child fatalities were caused by one or both parents.

References: US Department of Health & Human Services Administration of Children and Families. Administration of Children, Youth and Families; Children’s Bureau.


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.

Mandatory Reporters of Child Abuse and Neglect

Who Must Report

  • Any person
  • Physicians, osteopathic physicians, medical examiners, chiropractic physicians, nurses or hospital personnel engaged in the admission, examination, care or treatment of persons
  • Health or mental health professional other than one listed above
  • Practitioners who rely solely on spiritual means for healing
  • School teachers or other school officials or personnel
  • Social workers, day care center workers or other professional child care, foster care, residential or institutional workers
  • Law enforcement officers or judges

Mandatory Reporting of Suspecting Abuse

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. § 39.01(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:

  • Eliminate the requirement that such a case be reported to the department
  • Prevent the department from investigating such a case
  • Preclude a court from ordering, when the health of the child requires it, the provision of medical services by a physician or treatment by a duly accredited practitioner who relies solely on spiritual means for healing in accordance with the tenets and practices of a well-recognized church or religious organization. The foregoing circumstances of deprivation or environment shall not be considered neglect if caused primarily by financial inability unless actual services for relief have been offered to and rejected by such person

Failure To Report

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.

Five Rs

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.

1. Raise The Issue

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.

2. Reach out to kids and parents in your community

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.

3. Remember the risk factors

Child abuse and neglect occur in all segments of our society, but the risk factors are greater in families where parents:

  • Abuse alcohol or drugs
  • Are isolated from their families or communities
  • Have difficulty controlling their anger or stress
  • Appear uninterested in the care, nourishment or safety of their children
  • Seem to be having serious economic, housing or personal problems

4. Recognize the warning signs

Some of the warning signs that a child might be abused or neglected include:

  • Nervousness around adults
  • Aggression toward adults or other children
  • Inability to stay awake or to concentrate for extended periods
  • Sudden, dramatic changes in personality or activities
  • Acting out sexually or showing interest in sex that is not appropriate for his or her age
  • Frequent or unexplained bruises or injuries
  • Low self-esteem
  • Poor hygiene

5. Report suspected abuse or neglect

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.

Other Ways You Can Help

Promote protective factors for healthy families.

  • Promote early bonding and nurturing throughout childhood
  • Develop knowledge of parenting and of child and youth development to help children reach their full potential
  • Recognize and support parental resiliency (ability to handle stressors and recover from occasional crises)
  • Encourage social connections to build a stronger base of parenting support
  • Address concerns related to resources for concrete supports for parents

Build a support network by getting involved in your neighborhood.

  • Develop friendly relationships with your neighbors and their children. Problems often seem less overwhelming when you have support nearby
  • Get involved in your child’s school. Join the parent-teacher organization and attend school events
  • Talk to your friends and neighbors about child abuse and how to prevent it

Learn how your community supports children and families

The following programs may be offered through schools, healthcare clinics, social service agencies or community or faith-based organizations:

  • Parent education programs teach parents about child development and parenting skills
  • Home-visiting programs provide social support, education, and crisis intervention to families at risk for abuse. (See Healthy Families America’s Website)
  • Substance abuse treatment programs can help parents overcome problems with alcohol or other drugs
  • Well-baby programs provide health and education services to new parents
  • Childcare programs offer affordable childcare services. This may allow parents to maintain full-time jobs or stay in school while keeping their children safe.
  • Respite care provides relief to families with a child or other family member who is ill or has a disability
  • Parent mentor programs match experienced stable parents with parents at risk for abuse. Mentors provide support and model positive parenting skills.
  • Family support centers offer an array of preventive support services, including many of those listed above, as well as referral to other community services (See Family Support America’s Website.)
  • Parent support groups offer a place for parents to meet and discuss parenting issues, exchange ideas, and offer support. To access and view schedules of our programs and services please go to events in our Web site.

Take part in community prevention efforts

  • Help local organizations distribute educational materials on parenting and child abuse prevention
  • Encourage local schools or other community organizations to provide parenting education
  • Offer to speak to the media and other groups about your own experiences as a parent. Parents Anonymous® Inc. has a resource guide, Media Guide for Parent Leaders, that may be helpful. (See Parents Anonymous® Inc.’s Web site.)
  • Organize a fundraiser or a food drive to support an organization that helps families in your community
  • Offer to teach a seminar on strengthening marriages. Talk with others at community events (neighborhood fairs, back-to-school nights, holiday festivals) about why it is important to have a healthy marriage and how they can strengthen marriages in their communities
  • Provide friendship and guidance to parents and children who need your help by volunteering for programs such as Befriend-a-Child or Court Appointed Special Advocates (CASA)
  • Contact your elected officials and ask them to support funding for prevention efforts and policies that support children and families
  • Make a donation to an organization that works to prevent child abuse. You can donate money, or give clothing, food, or toys to a social service agency that helps families in your community
  • Start or join a community coalition to prevent child abuse and neglect

Recognizing Child Abuse and Neglect: Signs and Symptoms

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.

Recognizing Child Abuse

The following signs may signal the presence of child abuse or neglect.

The Child:

  • Shows sudden changes in behavior or school performance
  • Has not received help for physical or medical problems brought to the parents’ attention
  • Has learning problems (or difficulty concentrating) that cannot be attributed to specific physical or psychological causes
  • Is always watchful, as though preparing for something bad to happen
  • Lacks adult supervision
  • Is overly compliant, passive, or withdrawn
  • Comes to school or other activities early, stays late, and does not want to go home

The Parent:

  • Shows little concern for the child
  • Denies the existence of—or blames the child for—the child’s problems in school or at home
  • Asks teachers or other caretakers to use harsh physical discipline if the child misbehaves
  • Sees the child as entirely bad, worthless, or burdensome
  • Demands a level of physical or academic performance the child cannot achieve
  • Looks primarily to the child for care, attention, and satisfaction of emotional needs

The Parent and Child:

  • Rarely touch or look at each other
  • Consider their relationship entirely negative
  • State that they do not like each other

Types of Abuse

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.

Signs of Physical Abuse

Consider the possibility of physical abuse when the child:

  • Has unexplained burns, bites, bruises, broken bones or black eyes
  • Has fading bruises or other marks noticeable after an absence from school
  • Seems frightened of the parent or caregiver and protests or cries when it is time to go home
  • Shrinks at the approach of adults
  • Reports injury by a parent or another adult caregiver

Consider the possibility of physical abuse when the parent or other adult caregiver:

  • Offers conflicting, unconvincing, or no explanation for the child’s injury
  • Describes the child as “evil,” or in some other very negative way
  • Uses harsh physical discipline with the child
  • Has a history of abuse as a child

Signs of Neglect

Consider the possibility of neglect when the child:

  • Is frequently absent from school
  • Begs or steals food or money.
  • Lacks needed medical or dental care, immunizations or glasses
  • Is consistently dirty and has severe body odor
  • Lacks sufficient clothing for the weather
  • Abuses alcohol or other drugs
  • States that there is no one at home to provide care
  • Has unattended physical or medical problems

Consider the possibility of neglect when the parent or other adult caregiver:

  • Appears to be indifferent to the child
  • Seems apathetic or depressed
  • Behaves irrationally or in a bizarre manner
  • Is abusing alcohol or other drugs

Signs of Sexual Abuse

Consider the possibility of sexual abuse when the child:

  • Has difficulty walking or sitting due to pain, bleeding, redness or swelling in anal or genital area.
  • Suddenly refuses to change for gym or to participate in physical activities
  • Reports nightmares or bedwetting
  • Experiences a sudden change in appetite
  • Demonstrates bizarre, sophisticated, or unusual sexual knowledge or behavior
  • Age-inappropriate sexual play with toys, self or others
  • Becomes pregnant or contracts a venereal disease, particularly if less than 14 years old
  • Runs away
  • Reports sexual abuse by a parent or another adult caregiver

Consider the possibility of sexual abuse when the parent or other adult caregiver:

  • Is unduly protective of the child or severely limits the child’s contact with other children, especially of the opposite sex
  • Is secretive and isolated
  • Is jealous or controlling with family members

Signs of Emotional Maltreatment

Consider the possibility of emotional maltreatment when the child:

  • Shows extremes in behavior, such as overly compliant or demanding behavior, extreme passivity or aggression
  • Is either inappropriately adult (parenting other children, for example) or inappropriately infantile (frequently rocking or head-banging, for example)
  • Is delayed in physical or emotional development
  • Has attempted suicide.
  • Reports a lack of attachment to the parent

Consider the possibility of emotional maltreatment when the parent or other adult caregiver:

  • Constantly blames, belittles or berates the child
  • Is unconcerned about the child and refuses to consider offers of help for the child’s problems
  • Overtly rejects the child


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:

  • To have been abandoned, abused or neglected by the child’s parent, parents or legal custodians
  • To have been surrendered to the Department or voluntarily placed with a licensed child-placing agency for the purpose of adoption
  • To have been voluntarily placed with a licensed child-caring agency, a licensed child-placing agency, an adult relative, the Department, after which placement, a case plan has expired and the parent or parents, legal custodians or caregivers have failed to substantially comply with the requirements of the plan
  • To have no parent or legal custodian capable of providing supervision and care
  • To be at substantial risk of imminent abuse, abandonment, or neglect by the parent(s) or legal custodians

Harm to a child’s health or welfare can occur when any person:

  • Inflicts or allows to be inflicted upon the child physical, mental or emotional injury. In determining whether harm has occurred, the following factors must be considered in evaluating any physical, mental or emotional injury to the child: the age of the child, any prior history of injuries to the child, the location of the injury on the body of the child, the multiplicity of the injury and the type of trauma inflicted
  • Commits, or allows to be committed, sexual battery or lewd or lascivious acts
  • Allows, encourages, or forces the sexual exploitation of a child
  • Exploits a child, or allows a child to be exploited
  • Abandons the child
  • Neglects the child
  • Exposes a child to a controlled substance or alcohol
  • Uses mechanical devices, unreasonable restraints or extended periods of isolation to control a child
  • Engages in violent behavior that demonstrates a wanton disregard for the presence of a child and could reasonably result in serious injury to the child
  • Negligently fails to protect a child in his or her care from inflicted physical, mental or sexual injury caused by the acts of another
  • Has allowed a child’s sibling to die as a result of abuse, abandonment, or neglect
  • Makes the child unavailable for the purpose of impeding or avoiding a protective investigation unless the court determines that the parent, legal custodian or caregiver was fleeing from a situation involving domestic violence

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:

  • Any penetration, however slight, of the vagina or anal opening of one person by the penis of another person, whether or not there is the emission of semen
  • Any sexual contact between the genitals or anal opening of one person and the mouth or tongue of another person
  • Any intrusion by one person into the genitals or anal opening of another person, including the use of any object for this purpose, except that this does not include any act intended for a valid medical purpose
  • The intentional touching of the genitals or intimate parts, including the breasts, genital area, groin, inner thighs and buttocks, or the clothing covering them, of either the child or the perpetrator, except that this does not include any act which may be reasonably construed to be a normal caregiver responsibility, any interaction with, or affection for a child or any act intended for a valid medical purpose
  • The intentional masturbation of the perpetrator’s genitals in the presence of a child
  • The intentional exposure of the perpetrator’s genitals in the presence of a child, or any other sexual act intentionally perpetrated in the presence of a child, if such exposure or sexual act is for the purpose of sexual arousal or gratification, aggression, degradation or other similar purpose
  • The sexual exploitation of a child, which includes allowing, encouraging or forcing a child to solicit for or engage in prostitution or engage in a sexual performance

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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