By Freelance Contributor Jane Sandwood
A new child abuse case is reported every 10 seconds. The United States has one of the worst child abuse and maltreatment records among all industrialized nations. As child care providers, we deal with children each and every day, who may be among these numbers. Therefore, it is important that child health and safety programs include information on the signs of domestic child abuse.
Here is a guide on how to spot domestic child abuse and your duties as a child care provider to protect the children in your care.
TYPES OF CHILD ABUSE AND HOW TO SPOT THEM
Child abuse can take many different forms and sometimes can be hard to spot. To provide some education on the domestic violence of children, it is important to recognize the various types of child abuse and neglect. By understanding what the signs are, you will be able to better recognize if a child in your care is being abused.
Physical Abuse means causing injury or pain to a child, which includes beating, slapping, pushing, kicking, biting, pinching, and severe physical punishment. Even if the injury was not intended, the aggressive act can still be defined as physical abuse. Some signs of physical abuse include markers such as burns, cuts, and bruises, as well as a fear of adults, wearing long sleeves during abnormal occasions, and/or a fear of going home.
Sexual Abuse is any sexual act between an adult and a child to include penetration, intercourse, rape, oral sex, fondling, child prostitution, and performing sexual acts in front of the child. Some signs of sexual abuse include an inappropriate interest or knowledge of sexual acts and information, seductiveness, excessive aggression, and/or a fear of a particular person in the child’s life.
Emotional Abuse is an attitude, behavior, or lack of behavior that interferes with a child’s mental health and/or social development. Although emotional abuse is nearly always present with other types of abuse, it can also occur on its own. Emotional abuse can include name-calling and acts that make children feel useless or threatened. Signs of emotional abuse include low self-esteem, isolation from parents, a lack of social skills, strong emotions or outbursts, and/or using language that is inappropriate for their age.
Child Neglect is a common form of abuse and is defined by the failure to provide a child’s basic, medical, and educational needs. Some signs include wearing clothing that doesn’t fit the weather, bad hygiene, and/or extreme hunger.
YOUR DUTY TO PROTECT
If you notice any of these signs, it is required by law that you report them as soon as possible. A child care provider is a mandated reporter, which means you must report any signs and incidents.
To report any suspicious cases, you can call the Alameda Child Abuse Hotline at 510-259-1800. It is available 24/7 and in addition to being a resource for reporting abuse, it can be used as a resource for any questions you may have.
- Jane Sandwood, a former teacher, has worked as a freelance writer for the last 10 years across many fields. Jane has a particular interest in issues relating to child welfare.