Sitnews - Stories In The News - Ketchikan, Alaska - News, Features, Opinions...


Take the Time to Help A Child;
April Is National Child Abuse Awareness and Prevention Month


April 2, 2004

Sadly, child maltreatment is an unfortunate reality and more common that one may realize. In 2000, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Administration for Children and Families, Children's Bureau reported that approximately three million reports of child maltreatment concerning five million children were made and that as a result of those investigations, approximately 879,000 children were found to have been victims of abuse or neglect. 63 percent of the children were victims of neglect, 19 percent of the children were victims of physical abuse, 10 percent of the children were sexually abused, and eight percent of the children were victims of emotional abuse.

The report also showed that age, race and gender are not factors in deciphering victims of child abuse. Infant to one-year- old toddlers are the highest age group in child abuse and neglect deaths and 85 percent of the children who have died because of child abuse and neglect were younger than six years of age. More than 51 percent of the victims were white, 25 percent of the victims were African American, 14 percent of the victims were Hispanic, two percent of the victims were American Indian/Alaskan Native, and one percent were Asian/Pacific Islanders. Boys and girls both experience neglect and physical abuse about evenly, however, the American Academy of Pediatrics reported that studies show that one in four girls and one in eight boys will be sexually abused before the age of 18.

The categories of child abuse, identified in the Child Abuse and Neglect Reporting Act (2004) are: physical abuse, sexual abuse, neglect and mental suffering. The operational definitions are as follow:

Physical abuse: physical injury inflicted by other than accidental means upon a child by another person, including corporal punishment that results in a traumatic condition, as well as willful cruelty or unjustifiable punishment of a child.

Neglect: failure to provide for a child's basic needs, such as the failure to provide adequate food, clothing, shelter, medical care or supervision, whether or not an injury to the child has occurred.

Sexual abuse: sexual assault, including fondling a child's genitals, intercourse, incest, rape, or sodomy; and sexual exploitation, including any depiction of a minor in obscene acts, or any exploitation through prostitution or the production of pornographic materials.

Mental suffering (emotional/verbal abuse): the infliction of mental suffering or endangering the emotional well-being of a child.

Unfortunately, there are many misconceptions about child abuse. Most of which address the perpetrator. Perpetrators are NOT members of a certain ethnicity, race, creed, gender, age, income bracket, social status; nor are they the shady, suspicious-looking characters that one might imagine. They are doctors, fathers, grandparents, teachers, neighbors, babysitters, mothers (and the list goes on), the very people responsible for children's safety and well-being. Four out of five victims are abused by at least one parent (US Children's Bureau). And many times, the parent was a victim of child abuse. The American Academy of Pediatrics reports that, in most abuse cases, parents do not really want to hurt their children. Often times, parents may lack an understanding of discipline, nutrition, health and hygiene. Parenting is challenging and parents do not always understand children's developmental stages and may place unreasonable expectations on their children.

Education is essential in preventing child abuse, especially for parents. Information on keeping children safe and a variety of parenting education resources can be obtained at the website of Prevent Child Abuse America No one expects parents to know how to do it all; in fact, everyone needs help once in a while. But if stress affects the way you treat your child or if you want the extra support that all parents need at some point, do one of the following: talk to someone, get counseling, take a parenting class, accept help. Above all, cultivate a positive relationship with your children and communicate with them regularly. Remember, it is not easy to recognize when a child is being abused. Therefore, if you are communicating with your child and someone is hurting them, you are better prepared to recognize a problem and obtain help as early as possible.

What we all can do:

Educate yourself and others. Take or advise others to take parent education classes, mentoring classes or join new parent clubs or start a playgroup. Learn what child abuse is and learn the signs-unexplained injuries aren't the only signs of abuse. Encourage schools to provide literature and resources to parents. Teach children that they have a right to be safe.

Invest in children. Volunteer your time and offer help to other parents so that they can take a break-or ask for help from friends or family. Support legislations to better protect children. Offer to volunteer or give donations to prevention programs. Teach children: their address and telephone number; to never go anywhere by themselves; to yell, run and tell when someone frightens them; to never keep bad feelings a secret.


Source of News Release:

California Association of Marriage and Family Therapists
Web Site


E-mail your news & photos to

Post a Comment
        View Comments
Submit an Opinion - Letter

Stories In The News
Ketchikan, Alaska