Abuse cycle - Editorial
It's a heartbreaking, tragic situation. When child abuse occurs, reactions range from shock and outrage to sadness for the victims.
Posted by Kansas Children's Service League on 4/9/2010
Beyond that, many people give little thought to what might have been done to prevent such horrific acts. And some simply prefer to look away.
Kansas Children's Service League and other child advocacy groups want people to know they can do something, and hope to raise awareness of those strategies as part of Child Abuse Prevention Month in April.
One way is responding to warning signs of abuse.
While children often get bumps and bruises through everyday play, wounds to their stomach, cheeks, ears, buttocks, mouth or thighs, as well as black eyes, human bite marks, and circular burns the size of a cigarette suggest something more serious.
Other signs of possible abuse:
* Unusual, excessive or patterned injuries, or injuries that are inadequately explained.
* A child who is excessively sad and cries a lot.
* A child who fights with classmates, acts out, destroys things or is violent toward a pet or sibling.
* Listless behavior, trouble sleeping or nightmares.
* Fear of a parent or other adult.
* A child who avoids going home after school, as if afraid of something.
The Kansas Attorney General's Office urges anyone who suspects a problem to call the Kansas Protection Report Center at (800) 922-5330.
Beyond that, attacking the problem also means making sure people on the front line have sufficient resources to help at-risk families.
Home visits, parent education, mental health services, convenient and affordable day care and substance abuse treatment all aid in the prevention of child abuse and neglect.
Strong programs and interventions can be lifesavers, particularly in a state that every year sees about 300 infants die for various reasons.
In a poor economy, the stress on families too often leads to the mistreatment of children. Rather than scaling back assistance, it's necessary to recognize programs that work and expose them to as many at-risk families as possible.
The cycle of violence that starts with the abuse of a child exacts a painful, far-reaching toll on communities. We can't afford to look the other way.