April is Child Abuse Prevention Month

HURLBURT FIELD, Fla. -- April is Child Abuse Prevention month and its goal is to bring awareness to the high amount of child abuse in our society and the urgent need to prevent the abuse of children.

Children deserve to be raised in an environment that’s safe and secure emotionally, physically and mentally.

Abuse of children transcends class, ethnicity, race, educational level and religious preferences. Children who are abused carry emotional, mental and in some cases, physical consequences of their abuse into adulthood and throughout the rest of their lives.

Child abuse can cause a cycle of abuse in families where the children learn to be perpetrators of abuse as well as creating lifelong victims of abuse.

According to the National Center on Child Abuse Pre-vention Research reports that in a study conducted in 2000 found that nearly 1,356 children died as a result of child abuse and neglect, which means that nearly four children die every day from abuse and neglect.

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services directs the National Child Abuse and Neglect Data System that collects data from across the country regarding child abuse and neglect. Their most recent report from 2003 showed that 906,000 children were victims of abuse and neglect in 2003.

Approximately 1,500 children died as a result of abuse and neglect. Children three and under had the highest rate of victimization and girls were more likely to be victims of abuse than boys. There were 138,499 victims of child abuse and neglect in the state of Florida in 2003.

The study also showed that one-half of reports made alleging abuse or neglect were made by professionals (i.e. teachers, law enforcement, or day care providers). All Department of Defense employees are required to report suspected child abuse.

The primary goal is to keep children in their home with their parents by providing services to the family and children. However, when a child has to be removed from the home due to safety concerns, there are several costs involved. 

One of the costs is placing a child with a family member or into foster care. In-home services, medical care and counseling are also provided as needed. Additional costs include court costs, law enforcement costs and costs of mental health services as a result of the emotional harm children endure when abused.

Approximately 50 percent of children removed from due to safety concerns are reunited with their parents.

Hurlburt’s Family Advocacy Program offers parenting classes, stress management classes, and anger management classes. A new parent support program is also offered through Family Advocacy that provides classes and home visits to couples prior to the birth of a baby or to new parents. 

Reporters of child abuse and neglect are kept confidential. Reports of suspected child abuse or neglect can be made through the Florida Abuse Hotline at (800) 96-ABUSE or (800) 962-2873.