More than 1 million children are victims of child abuse and neglect each year, according to state child protective service agencies. Many victims don’t receive help because they are not reported to the system. These abused and neglected children span all ages, races, religions and socio-economic backgrounds. Child maltreatment includes actions that result in imminent risk of serious harm, death, serious physical or emotional harm, sexual abuse or exploitation of a child under age 18 by a parent or caretaker.
Children under 4 are at greatest risk for severe injury and death from abuse. Abuse and neglect can occur in families where there is a great deal of stress. The stress can result from a family history of violence, drug or alcohol abuse, poverty and chronic health problems.
Ongoing violence in the community may create an environment where child abuse is accepted.
Tragically, child abuse has life-time consequences, and can result in:
• Poor physical health: chronic fatigue, obesity, decreased immunity,
• Poor emotional health: depression, anxiety disorder, suicide attempts, post-traumatic stress,
• Problems with relationships,
• Lower academic achievement,
• Increased risk of teen pregnancy, alcohol and drug abuse,
• Behavior problems that can lead to juvenile delinquency.
Child abuse occurs when a parent or caregiver takes action that causes injury to the child. This can be an actual physical attack or the deliberate withholding of food.
Child abuse may occur as a result of not understanding normal child development. Abuse can be physical, emotional, intellectual and sexual. Child neglect is an act of omission that causes injury to a child.
Here are some common signs of child abuse or neglect:
• Unexplained bruises
• Welts, burns or fractures
• Lacerations or cuts
• Consistent hunger
• Inappropriate dress
If you suspect a child is being abused, you are urged to call the Florida Abuse Hotline at 1-800-962-2873 (TDD 1-800-453-5145). If you see a child in immediate danger, call 911.
You can also contact the National Child Abuse Hotline at 1-800-4-A-Child (1-800-422-4453) to report abuse or get help.
If you think you or someone in your household is struggling, managing responsibilities of parenting and feel you need urgent help because you might abuse your own child, you can also contact the Mobile Crisis Team available in Palm Beach County and Belle Glade for 24/7 assistance.
(561) 383-5777 (Palm Beach County)
(561) 992-8707 (Belle Glade)