The need to protect children from abuse and neglect may seem obvious to us. Still and all, millions of children around the world are exposed to physical, sexual, and emotional violent behavior.
Dismal statistics coming from the World Health Organization (WHO) unveil that more than 53,000 children are murdered each year.
The Denver Post adds more gruesome realities involving child abuse and neglect:
Since 2007, 175 children in Colorado have died of abuse and neglect – beaten, starved, suffocated and burned. Deepening the tragedy is that the families or caregivers of 72 of them were known to caseworkers whose job was to protect them.
For example, two-year-old Alize Vick was killed after her foster mother hurled her five feet, head-first into a coffee table.
Another mother of five children poured gasoline over her children then lit them on fire, killing 16-month-old Ashya Joseph and severely burning the other four.
The deadly and gruesome outcomes involving two-year-old Alize Vick and 16-month-old Ashya Joseph are just a couple of heartbreaking and sickening examples. Many more child abuse cases get ignored for a variety of reasons.
First, many people are apprehensive in sharing what they know when it comes to observing or suspecting abuse in any form.
Second, a family’s and individual’s privacy becomes a sensitive and understandable concern.
Additionally, there’s not much money to be made in protecting children — therefore, many individuals do not get involved.
Abused and neglected children are affected in such a way that many of them become violent later in life. Still, children all over the world are being physically, sexually, and psychologically abused by parents, caregivers, clergy, teachers and coaches, to name a few.
Any form of violent exposure to children will have a lasting impact on their emotional, physical and mental well-being.
Children are innocent beings — incapable of defending themselves from violence. The responsibility lies with everyone to protect a child’s rights to live in violent-free environments.
Protect Children from Maltreatment
The maltreatment of children is a problem in most societies. It is a public health concern, as well. Research shows that child abuse and neglect victims develop psychological, physical, financial and social problems, throughout the course of their lives.
Healthy child development is one of the keys to protect children and prevent child abuse and neglect. Ironically, recognizing that a child is abused or neglected is the first step in preventing it.
There are a number of risk factors that increase the likelihood that a child is being, or could be mistreated.
The following are some of the risk factors determined by the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC):
- Children with special needs such as chronic physical illness, mental retardation, disabilities, and mental health issues
- Children 4 years or younger
- Parents lacking healthy parenting skills
- Parents with a history of child abuse in his or her family of origin
- Substance abuse and mental health issues
- Social isolation
- Community violence
The CDC adds a few protective ways to help protect children and prevent child maltreatment, which include a supportive family environment and social networks, nurturing parenting skills, adequate housing, employed parents, and access to health care and social services, to name a few.
What You Can Do
The CDC expresses the need to use social media, local communities, federal, state, and local governments, literature, and other forms of media, as ways to protect children from abuse or neglect.
Anyone suspecting or recognizing child abuse or neglect can contact their local authorities, or the Childhelp National Child Abuse Hotline at (1-800-422-4453). Childhelp is a national organization that provides crisis assistance, counseling and referral services.
In addition, anyone suspecting child maltreatment internationally can contact one of the members of the Partner Programs at the International Society for Prevention of Child Abuse and Neglect (ISPCAN) at their web site. Their website has links, phone numbers, and addresses of various members offering help in different countries throughout the world.
Help Prevent and Protect
The consequences of child maltreatment result in lifelong disabilities: physical, mental, financial, and social, and in some cases death.
Child abuse and neglect victims are likely to get involved in high-risk sexual behaviors, alcohol and drug misuse, and lack, or be completely void of social relationship skills.
The need to protect and provide support, shelter, and solutions for children facing violence and neglect is not only an individual, public health, and societal responsibility.
Many people believe it is a moral responsibility to protect children — a responsibility we must all choose.
Featured image courtesy of U.S. Department of Defense [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons