Being A Voice: The Silent OnesFebruary 16, 2011 Marina Y Sanchez Freelance Columnist
I am absolutely appalled by the news story that came out on MSN.com entitled Death of girl found in truck in West Palm Beach probed as abuse case.
It’s a horrible story of 10-year-old girl found dead in the bed of a pickup truck while her brother was exposed to poisons an exterminator would use.
According to the story, the parents who had adopted the boy and girl in the story were already under investigation because it had been reported that the boy and girl were being tied up and only let loose to eat. And now we have the death of small child.
It’s baffling that we still have to remind people not to hurt, injury or even kill children. Children are suffering from a hidden epidemic of child abuse and neglect. Over 3 million reports of child abuse are made every year in the United States.
Here are some disturbing facts I found:
- A report of child abuse is made every ten seconds.
- Almost five children die everyday as a result of child abuse. More than three out of four are under the age of 4.
- It is estimated that between 60-85% of child fatalities due to maltreatment are not recorded as such on death certificates.
- 90% of child sexual abuse victims know the perpetrator in some way; 68% are abused by family members.
- Child abuse occurs at every socioeconomic level, across ethnic and cultural lines, within all religions and at all levels of education.
- 31% percent of women in prison in the United States were abused as children.
- Over 60% of people in drug rehabilitation centers report being abused or neglected as a child.
- About 30% of abused and neglected children will later abuse their own children, continuing the horrible cycle of abuse.
- About 80% of 21 year old that were abused as children met criteria for at least one psychological disorder.
- Abused children are 25% more likely to experience teen pregnancy.
- Abused teens are 3 times less likely to practice safe sex, putting them at greater risk for STDs.
What is going on? It angers me that we are in such a dilemma when comes to raising children. What kind of person hurts a child in any way? The start of child abuse begins a vicious child. When a person abuses a child, they rob them of the chance of a secure, stable life.
I think the biggest problem we all face is judging whether we should get involved at all. However, remember the earlier child abuse is caught, the better the chance of recovery and appropriate treatment for the child. Child abuse is not always obvious. By learning some of the common warning signs of child abuse and neglect, you can catch the problem as early as possible and get both the child and the abuser the help that they need.
Of course, just because you see a warning sign doesn’t automatically mean a child is being abused. It’s important to dig deeper, looking for a pattern of abusive behavior and warning signs, if you notice something off.
Warning signs of emotional abuse in children
- Excessively withdrawn, fearful, or anxious about doing something wrong.
- Shows extremes in behavior (extremely compliant or extremely demanding; extremely passive or extremely aggressive).
- Doesn’t seem to be attached to the parent or caregiver.
- Acts either inappropriately adult (taking care of other children) or inappropriately infantile (rocking, thumb-sucking, tantruming).
Warning signs of physical abuse in children
- Frequent injuries or unexplained bruises, welts, or cuts.
- Is always watchful and “on alert,” as if waiting for something bad to happen.
- Injuries appear to have a pattern such as marks from a hand or belt.
- Shies away from touch, flinches at sudden movements, or seems afraid to go home.
- Wears inappropriate clothing to cover up injuries, such as long-sleeved shirts on hot days.
Warning signs of neglect in children
- Clothes are ill-fitting, filthy, or inappropriate for the weather.
- Hygiene is consistently bad (unbathed, matted and unwashed hair, noticeable body odor).
- Untreated illnesses and physical injuries.
- Is frequently unsupervised or left alone or allowed to play in unsafe situations and environments.
- Is frequently late or missing from school.
Warning signs of sexual abuse in children
- Trouble walking or sitting.
- Displays knowledge or interest in sexual acts inappropriate to his or her age, or even seductive behavior.
- Makes strong efforts to avoid a specific person, without an obvious reason.
- Doesn’t want to change clothes in front of others or participate in physical activities.
- An STD or pregnancy, especially under the age of 14.
- Runs away from home.
Sadly, this is the world we live in. Yet, we all be aware and act when we notice something is not right. Children cannot speak for themselves when they are in abusive situations. Sometimes it takes another adult to be their voice.
Children are defenseless. They are silent. Helping one child makes a big difference in the sad and growing statistics.