April Is Child Abuse Prevention Month By Alina Lopez

April Is Child Abuse Prevention Month

On my last blog, I wrote about the Youth Crime Watch “Stop the Violence” Blue Ribbon Week Campaign, but there’s another Blue Ribbon nationwide movement the whole month of April for Child Abuse Prevention Awareness. Too often we hear of awful cases of child abuse and neglect in this country and some cases never make it as news stories. Many of us are familiar with such high-profile cases like that of Gabriel Fernandez from Los Angeles or the case here in Miami of Nubia Barahona.

Each day, more than five children die as a direct result of abuse or neglect and a child abuse case is reported every ten seconds on average. Unfortunately, the majority of perpetrators are someone the child knows or is in the care of by a parent or guardian. Even though child abuse cases are greater in families with low socio-economic status, it can occur to any child, regardless of their social and economic position.

The first National Child Abuse Prevention month was proclaimed in April 1983 and the blue ribbon concept emerged in 1989 when a grandmother from Virginia tied a blue ribbon to her car’s antenna in honor of her grandson who died as a result of abuse. The goal of the program is to bring awareness to the devastation that child abuse has on children’s lives. This year’s theme is “Every day, we help positive childhood experience take root!”

To be clear, abuse is classified as the willful act or threatened act that results in any physical, mental, or sexual harm that causes the child’s health to be significantly impaired. Neglect is when a child is deprived of necessary food, clothing, shelter, or medical treatment or a child is permitted to live in an environment where the child’s welfare may be in danger.

Do keep in mind that corporal discipline by a parent or guardian does not in itself constitute abuse so long as it does not cause harm to the child.

Some signs of child abuse, aside from the obvious physical injuries (i.e. bruises, cuts, burns, etc.) can be:

  • Withdrawal from friends and activities
  • Changes in behavior like sudden aggression, anger, hostility, or changes in school performance
  • Depression, anxiety, fear
  • Frequent unexplained absences from school
  • Reluctance to leave school or activities as if the child doesn’t want to go home
  • Self harm or suicide attempts

As mentioned earlier, most cases of abuse are by the hands of a parent or guardian, and any other injury or death by a stranger is usually considered a criminal act and not so much child abuse.

In the state of Florida, everyone, not just mandatory reporters, has the responsibility to report a suspected case of child abuse and neglect. Failure to do so is a third-degree felony.

To report a possible child abuse/neglect case, contact 1-800-96-ABUSE (1-800-962-2873) or through the website http://reportabuse.dcf.state.fl.us.

The saying that “children are our future” stands true today and always, and we, as a community, must continue to protect this vulnerable population.

Until next time, be aware, make good choices, and stay safe.

To contact Citizens’ Crime Watch call us at 305-470-1670 or visit our webpage www.citizenscrimewatch.org.

Written By: Alina Lopez

Citizen’s Crime Watch of Miami-Dade

Citizens’ Crime Watch is a nonprofit county-wide crime prevention program funded by the Miami-Dade Board of County Commissioners, grants and donations.