Published in the Lake Sentinel on April 6th.
By Gail Burry
When people think of child abuse what comes to mind first? Bruises? Broken arms? Or Worse? Of course, all of these instances are forms of child abuse, but they’re not what make up the majority of cases in today’s society. Unlike what may come to mind, the most common form of abuse is neglect. Simply put, neglect is when a parent or caregiver fails to provide the necessary care for a child. This isn’t always willful. With the all too common struggles with addiction, untreated mental illness and family violence, more and more children are being neglected as these issues trap parents.
During 2013, almost 3,000 abuse reports from Lake County were received by the Florida Abuse Hotline. Of those reported almost, 700 children were verified to have experienced abuse, neglect or abandonment. Thirty-four percent of the verified child abuse involved substance misuse – 236 children’s caregivers used substances instead of properly caring for their children.
April is Child Abuse Prevention and Awareness Month. There are simple things that you can do to help families struggling with these issues. First and foremost, be vigilant. Being aware of what is occurring around you and paying attention to those that surround you allows you to notice when something is amiss. Never hesitate to report suspected abuse. Call the hotline at 800-96-ABUSE. Secondly, be a support to family, friends and neighbors. Parents, especially young parents, parents of multiple children, or single parents, can become overwhelmed. Offering words of encouragement and understanding lets parents know you’re there for them. You can also offer to baby-sit or just listen. Lastly, talking about child abuse, substance abuse and domestic violence can help. When you speak up and acknowledge the problem in a nonjudgmental fashion, others will listen and some may seek help. Coming together as a community will strengthen our families, children and our future.
For more information on child abuse in our community visit EndKidsTears.com.
Kids Central, Inc. Board of Directors