You Have the Power to Prevent Child Abuse

Understand the problem.
Child abuse and neglect affect children of all ages, races and income.

Understand the terms.
Child abuse and neglect take more than one form. Federal and State laws address four main types of child maltreatment: physical abuse, physical or emotional neglect, sexual abuse and emotional abuse.

Understand the causes.
Most parents don’t hurt or neglect their children intentionally. Many were themselves abused or neglected. Very young parents or inexperienced parents might not know how to take care of their babies or what they can reasonably expect from children at different stages of development. Circumstances that place families under extraordinary stress – for instance, poverty, divorce, sickness, disability – sometimes take their toll in child maltreatment. Parents who abuse alcohol or other drugs are more likely to abuse or neglect their children.

Support programs that support families.
Parent education, community centers, respite care services and substance abuse treatment programs help to protect children by addressing circumstances that place families at risk for child abuse and neglect. Donate your time or money, if you can.

Report suspected abuse and neglect.
If you suspect a child is being abused or neglected, call the police or your local child welfare agency. Doing so, may save a child and a family.

Spread the word.
Help educate others in your community about child abuse and neglect. You can find sources for free materials from Prevent Child Abuse America at 312-663-3520 or Parents Anonymous, Inc. at 909-621-6184. Place these materials at your local public library, community center, club and sport center, university, government center and church, synagogue, temple, mosque or other faith institution.

Strengthen the fabric of your community.
Know your neighbors’ names and the names of their children and, make sure they know your name. Volunteer directly with children or participate on the board or on a committee for any organization, service or civic club that ultimately contributes to the well-being of children.

Be ready in an emergency.
If you witness a situation where you believe a child is being or will be abused, try to talk to the adult to get their attention away from the child. Ask if you can be of any help or call someone for them on your cell phone. If you see a child alone in a public place, stay with the child until the parent returns.

Remember that prevention begins at home.
Take time to re-evaluate your parenting skills. Be honest with yourself. Read a book about child development. If you could benefit from talking to a professional or taking a parenting class, do so.

(Source: U.S. Department of Health & Human Services; Administration for Children & Families)