Child Abuse and Neglect Prevention: What Can You Do?

The following article discusses child abuse and neglect prevention and contains information that some readers may find disturbing and/or may cause physiological and/or psychological symptoms. Reader discretion is advised.

 In Montgomery County, the reports of possible child abuse or neglect rose from 9,400 in 2015 to 10,450 in 2019[1]. Child abuse and neglect crosses all racial, cultural, ethnic, social, and economic lines.

Keeping children safe is a community effort. All of us should be aware of the signs of possible abuse or neglect and know what to do about them. We’ve asked Kappi Hickman, MSW, LISW-S, licensed independent social worker with Kettering Health Network to break down some of the steps to help prevent child abuse and neglect.

Signs you should know

“Adults and youth should educate themselves about the signs and symptoms of abuse and neglect as well as know who to report their concerns to,” says Hickman. “Ultimately, as a community, our goal should always be to protect children at risk for abuse or neglect.”

Abuse can fall into three primary categories: physical, sexual, or emotional. Neglect is another form of child abuse characterized by a failure to meet a child’s basic needs. According to the Child Welfare Information Gateway Fact Sheet some signs to watch for in children can include:

  • Physical abuse: Unexplained burns, bites, or bruises; broken bones; black eyes; apparent fear of a parent or adult caregiver; fading bruises or marks that are noticeable after an absence from school.
  • Sexual abuse:Difficulty walking or sitting; sudden refusal to change for gym or participate in other physical activities; reported nightmares or bedwetting; sudden changes in appetite; demonstration of bizarre, sophisticated, or unusual sexual knowledge.
  • Emotional abuse:Emotional extremes such as being overly compliant or overly demanding; extreme passivity or aggression; frequent rocking or headbanging; delays in physical or emotional development; attempted suicide; reported lack of attachment to a parent.
  • Neglect:Frequent absences from school; lack of necessary medical care, dental care, immunizations, or glasses; consistent uncleanliness or body odor; lack of sufficient clothing for the weather; asking for food or money at school; abuse of alcohol or drugs; stating that there is no one at home providing care.

What can I do?

The most important step is to make a formal report. The agencies and organizations that handle these reports have a primary goal of keeping children with their biological family whenever possible. When children are unable to safely return home to their parents or caregivers, these agencies are tasked with the responsibility of identifying an alternative placement for children.

If a child is in imminent danger, call 911. In cases of suspected of abuse or neglect, Montgomery County and the state of Ohio have resources in place where concerned parties can make an anonymous report.

  • Montgomery County Department of Children and Family Services: (937) 224-5437
  • State of Ohio Child Protective Services: 1 (855) 642-4453

Hickman shares that reporting parties should be prepared to share the following information:

  • Names and addresses of the child and parent/guardian
  • Description of the concern
  • The perpetrator’s access to the child
  • Names of other household members
  • The child’s current condition
  • Information regarding evidence of past injuries or signs of abuse

Strengthening our community

“It is a heavy and disheartening fact that there are children who are being harmed in our community,” Hickman says. “Know that there are resources in our community and people who can help both the victims and perpetrators of the abuse or neglect. No one has to live in silence or fear.”

Hickman shares that there are also resources for parents to educate themselves on how to have a conversation with their child about abuse and neglect.





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