Child Abuse

Child Abuse Prevention Month Here on the Suncoast

April is Child Abuse Protection Month aimed at helping us all be aware of the dangers of child abuse and steps that can be taken to prevent it in our community. The number of children that continue to suffer from abuse in various forms of physical and/or emotional ill-treatment, sexual abuse, neglect or negligent treatment, or commercial or other exploitation is staggering. Further, these horrors that are visited on children result in actual or potential harm to the child’s health, survival, development, or dignity in a relationship of responsibility, trust, or power that is impactful to them for years into the future.

Each year, the Children’s Bureau releases a detailed report exploring the data that covers child abuse and neglect known to child protective services agencies in the United States. The 2020 Child Maltreatment Report is an important resource relied upon by researchers, practitioners, and advocates worldwide. When reviewing the statistics from 2020, it is not good news.

  • Approximately 2 million children received prevention services in 2020.
  • Approximately 1.2 million children received post-response services (such as family preservation, family support, or foster care) because of needs discovered during an investigation or alternative response.
  • During the Federal fiscal year 2020, fewer than one-quarter (21.8 percent) of confirmed maltreatment victims were removed from their homes because of an investigation or alternative response.

Facts to Know

Child abuse can have a host of long-term implications that continue to spiral into future generations and impact society in general. The cost of foster care and other services for victims and the last ramifications to those who have experienced this in their childhood are staggering. Just because you don’t see a bruise does not always tell you a child is being abused or not.

  • It causes many problems – Victims of child abuse are at risk for emotional, physical, relationship problems.
  • There are various types – Common types of child abuse include emotional abuse, physical assault, and sexual assault.
  • Alcohol abuse is a big contributor – Parents abusing alcohol and drugs are more likely to neglect and abuse their children.
  • Abuse causes social problems – Abused children cannot express emotions safely.
  • It has the same rates among all genders – Boys and girls face similar rates of child abuse.
Child Abuse

What can you do?

We can all help with child abuse prevention if you come in contact with children at church, school, or even in the grocery store. No one person will be able to deter this epidemic that impacts the next generation, but April is about remaining alert, helping advocate for prevention methods, and learning what you can do to help. Here are a couple of things to remember:

  • Encourage children to speak up against child abuse – Encourage your children or the children living in your community to speak up if they have been mistreated or sexually abused.
  • Promote prevention of mistreatment of children – Promote child abuse prevention through social media or webinars.
  • Volunteer to work for child abuse protection organizations – Find out about the organizations working for child abuse prevention and contribute to helping this cause on your part by working for them.

Suncoast Facts and Figures

  • There are more than 35,000 children in foster care in Florida today.
  • Sixty-six percent are under 10, spending their critical early development years in an institutionalized setting.
  • Many children remain in foster care for three years or more.
  • Due to foster home shortages, children can be placed in up to 20 foster homes until a permanent place is found. Many go to a different home each night, carrying their belongings in a garbage bag.
  • Siblings are often separated from one another indefinitely. The foster home shortage plays a large role in this unfortunate fact.

Places to Get Involved

Here on the Suncoast, we have a litany of amazing places that try to help children that are being abused. Some may be able to stay in their families with additional support, and many end up in the foster care system. We can all provide our time and/or donations to some of these amazing resources to help these children year round – not just in April.

  • Careportal – Whether you want to keep one child out of foster care, help one family in crisis stay together or rally your community, CarePortal connects you. This allows you to sign up and help tangibly with real needs from transportation, car seats, meal delivery, mentoring, or other support means.
  • Bridge A Life – We understand the daily joys and struggles of parenting. Sometimes the number of needs and stress can be overwhelming. So, whether it’s providing meals, practical training, or safe and professional childcare for a night out, we support and equip foster and adoptive parents as they impact their children’s lives.
  • Fostering Hope Florida – The foster care system will never change if we don’t leave the sidelines and get in the game. We know that you can’t take all vulnerable children into your home, but we all can do something. Please join our team in working towards a day when EVERY foster child has a safe place to heal from trauma.
  • Heart Gallery of Sarasota – The Heart Gallery of Sarasota is working to change children’s lives by giving a voice to our community’s forgotten children through photographs taken by local photographers.
  • Safe Children Coalition – To protect children, strengthen families and build community by allowing all children to grow up in safe, stable, nurturing families and communities.
  • The Twig – We believe that the statistics for the average child in foster care are not okay. We want them to believe in themselves and their future. Our work is to empower these children with the confidence to face their tomorrows with strength. Children that thrive in foster care grow to become adults that want to make the world a better place. So, by investing in them today, we make a brighter tomorrow for everyone.

We know that this topic of Child Abuse Prevention is tough on everyone. Those who witness and need to report such cases to the children who are subjected to situations they are ill-prepared to deal with. Each of us has a voice to use to advocate for children in these situations and the ability to listen with a hearing ear to these voices when they do turn to us. We can spread the word about prevention and support agencies that work to make a better tomorrow for all our kiddos here on the Suncoast and around the nation.

Photos courtesy of Deposit Photos/Unsplash

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