Understanding Child Abuse and Neglect
April is National Child Abuse Prevention (CAP) month. During this month and throughout the year, CDA is dedicated to supporting families to reduce the risk of child abuse and neglect. Child Abuse and neglect are serious problems that can have lasting consequences. By working together as a community, we can all play a part in preventing child maltreatment and creating strong and thriving families.
What is Child Abuse and Neglect?
Child abuse and neglect include all types of abuse and neglect of a child under the age of 18 by a parent, caregiver, or another person in a protective role (babysitter, teacher, coach) that result in harm, potential harm, or threat of harm to a child. There are four common types of child abuse:
- Physical abuse is a physical injury as a result of hitting, kicking, shaking, burning, or other shows of force against a child.
- Sexual abuse is any situation where a child is used for sexual gratification. It includes behaviors such as indecent exposure, fondling, rape, 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 a failure to meet a child’s basic physical and emotional needs. These needs include housing, food, clothing, and access to medical care.
Child abuse and neglect affect children of every age, race, and income level.
Some of the risk factors include the following:
- Immaturity. Young parents may lack experience with children or be unprepared for the responsibility of raising a child.
- Unrealistic expectations. A lack of knowledge about normal child development or behavior may result in frustration and, ultimately, abusive discipline.
- Stress. Families struggling with poverty, unstable housing, divorce, or unemployment may be at higher risk.
- Substance use. The effects of substance use, as well as time, energy, and money spent obtaining drugs or alcohol, significantly impair parents’ abilities to care for the children.
- Intergenerational trauma. Parents’ own experiences of childhood trauma can impact their relationships with their children.
- Isolation. Effective parenting is more difficult when parents lack a supportive partner, family, or community.
Helpful tips for breaking the cycle of abuse:
- Have realistic expectations of what children can handle at certain ages and stages to avoid frustration and anger.
- Develop new parenting skills by learning positive discipline techniques and how to set clear boundaries for your children.
- Take care of yourself by getting enough rest and asking for support when you are feeling overwhelmed.
- Get help! Asking for help can be very difficult, but the outcome is worth the effort and your children will thank you for it.í
How to Keep Your Family Strong
Being the best parent you can be involves taking steps to strengthen your family and finding support when you need it. Parenting isn’t something you have to do alone. Click on the link below to learn about “How to Keep Your Family Strong.”
When you have the knowledge, skills, and resources you need, you can raise a happy, healthy child. Click on the link below to implement activities that promote strong thriving families during CAP month.
As always, please do not hesitate to contact me if you have any questions or need additional resources at 619-427-4411 ext. 1416 or by email at [email protected]
CDA Family Resources Coordinator