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Parenting Challenges

Abuse and Neglect

Types of Abuse

Every type of abuse or neglect is very harmful for a child. Sometimes one type of abuse happens, and sometimes more types happen at the same time:

  1. Emotional abuse: ignoring, rejecting, putting down, overpowering, or criticizing a child.
  2. Neglect: not meeting a child’s emotional or physical needs, causing harm that can be long-lasting or life-threatening. (There is a difference between poverty and child neglect; sometimes families can’t provide a lot of material comforts, but they can provide love and care.)
  3. Physical abuse: purposely causing physical pain or injury to a child.
  4. Sexual abuse: sexual contact or exposing a child to sexual contact or material.
  5. Peer abuse/bullying: physical, verbal, or emotional abuse by a peer or group of peers to another child.

Recognizing Child Abuse and Neglect

While most children do not get abused or neglected, too many children do.

You can help keep your child – and other children – safe by knowing the signs:

  1. Being cautious or watchful, as though preparing for something bad to happen.
  2. Withdrawing from activities.
  3. Changing behavior patterns or showing extreme behaviors such as rocking, thumb-sucking, and throwing tantrums.
  4. Learning problems not associated with physical or psychological causes.
  5. Bruising or injuries.
  6. Developing a problem with bed wetting after being potty-trained.
  7. Having blood in the underwear, in the case of sexual abuse.

These behaviors show possible abuse; they are not proof that abuse is occurring.

Children with special needs are more likely to be abused or neglected than other children. Parents and caregivers of children with special needs may need to take extra care of themselves and keep their stress level down. People under high stress are more likely to abuse or neglect a child than they would be otherwise. 

Reporting Child Abuse Q & A

Q: How do I report?

A: Contact the county social services office in your area to report suspected child abuse or neglect.

Q: What if a child seems to be in immediate danger?

A: Call 911 or local police immediately.

Q: What if I’m not completely sure abuse or neglect is happening?

A: You do not need to be 100% sure that abuse or neglect is happening in order to make a report. It’s not your job to investigate; that job belongs to Child Protective Service. You only need to suspect that there’s abuse or neglect.

Q: Will I be charged with filing a false report?

A: As long as you make the report in good faith, the law protects you from charges of a false report.

Q: What happens after a report is made?

A: Child Protection Service (CPS) makes an assessment. If the immediate safety of the child is threatened, the child may be taken from the home and put into protective care. To look into a report, CPS may visit the home, meet with people who can give more information, and recommend services.

Q: What services are available to families after they’re involved with CPS?

A: Services can include parent education, counseling, and foster care. In some cases, families are referred to the court system, and a judge may decide to remove a child from the home.

Q: What if nothing seems to happen after I file a report?

A: There may be supports and services going on behind the scenes that you can’t see. There may not be enough evidence yet for intervention. If you’re still concerned, please make another report!

Q: Why do parents who’ve abused or neglected their children still get to see them?

A: In most cases, children need contact with their birth families in order to know who they are and who they come from. Sometimes, parents and children can have supervised visitation, which lets families spend time together in a safe place with safe people available for support.

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