Each day, four to seven children die from child abuse and neglect. Don’t let the next victim be your child.
Every 10 seconds, child abuse is reported. Everyday, four to seven children die from child abuse and neglect. As unfathomable as it is to ever think someone would want to hurt a child, sadly, it's happening. What's even more heartbreaking is that many children are suffering in silence as their parents have no idea they're being victimized.
"We currently live in a day and age where abuse is on the rise and children are falling victims on daily basis, without their parent's awareness," notes Kemi Sogunle, award-winning author and founder of the nonprofit Love Not Hurt. As moms and dads, it's our job to do our best to protect our kids.
No matter how uncomfortable the subject of child abuse is, it needs to be discussed.
Here are common warning signs for parents to look out for, and steps moms and dads can take to help keep their children safe.
Child abuse warning signs
Dr. Claire Nicogossian is a licensed clinical psychologist who has created the following shortlist of child abuse warning signs based on her 20 years experience and past observations.
- -Noticeable personality changes (depending on the child's age and severity of the situation)
- -Nightmares, difficulty sleeping, and regressive behavior -- like bed-wetting or urination accidents with no previous history, and acting younger in a dramatic way
- -May display sexualized or inappropriate behavior
- Are extra clingy
- -Maladaptive coping -- including hairpulling, cutting, skin picking, loss of appetite or excessive eating (even food hoarding)
- -Anger or aggression towards self and others, especially at school (acting out)
- -Changes in academic performance, like a decline in grades and being withdrawn from once enjoyable activities and pastimes
- (Unexplained) bruising, injuries, and scars
- -Reluctance to be alone or with a particular person
Dr. Nicogossian also points out that child abuse often occurs with someone the child knows (a neighbor, caregiver, family member, friend). In addition to physical cases, child abuse also encompasses emotional and sexual abuse.
How to protect your child from abuse
As Dr. Eliza Belle, a licensed psychologist, says all parents can do is the best they can. While there's no way to guarantee your child will never experience hurt or pain, here are a few steps parents can take to help protect their child from abuse.