April is National

Child Abuse Prevention Month

In recognition of Child Abuse Prevention Month, throughout April, we are getting the word out about the importance of prevention, how to recognize abuse and neglect, the impact of abuse and neglect, and what you can do to help prevent it or make a report.

We hope you will join us in driving home this important message.

Each week we will address key components surrounding child abuse prevention.

• Week 1: A Growing Problem
• Week 2: Recognizing the Signs of Abuse and Neglect
• Week 3: Consequences of Child Abuse and Neglect
• Week 4: What We Can Do

Week 1: A Growing Problem

– Reports and incidents of child abuse and neglect are growing nationally, including in Montana.

  • According to the Protect Montana Kids Commission Report in 2015 there were 35,812 calls made to the Child Abuse Hotline in Montana.
  • In 2015 there were 8,908 child abuse and neglect investigations conducted.
  • There were 3,179 children in out-of-home placements in 2015, marking a 111% increase from 2008.
  • Factors contributing to families in crisis and children experiencing child abuse and neglect are varied, however, the Commission found that poverty, housing instability, food insecurity, mental health, domestic violence and issues of chemical dependency, ranging from alcoholism, opioid addiction and illegal drug use, were present in many cases.
  • Other contributing factors as demonstrated through national research include lack of transportation, past history of abuse and neglect in the parents past, single parenthood, unemployment and underemployment, social isolation, lack of family and/or community support systems, and lack of access to and use of primary medical care – including prenatal and postnatal care.

Week 2: Recognizing the Signs of Abuse and Neglect

– Any concerned person can report suspicions of child abuse or neglect. It is not an accusation; rather it is a request for an investigation and assessment to determine if help is needed. Child Protective Services will use federal and state established criteria to determine if abuse or neglect is or has occurred. If you suspect abuse or neglect is or has occurred you can call the Child Abuse Hotline at 1-866-820-5437 or call 911.

– There are many signs that could indicate abuse or neglect is or has occurred. Any one or two signs do not necessarily mean abuse is or has occurred, but often multiple signs may present themselves all at once or over a period of days or even weeks and months. It is important to pay attention to both physical signs and behaviors that may seem unusual or concerning. For more information on the signs of abuse and neglect you can go to www.childwelfare.gov

-Some of the more common signs to look for:

  • Child shows sudden changes in behavior or school performance, or arrives for activities very early or stays very late.
  • Child has not received help for physical or medical problems brought to the parents’ attention, frequently lacks adult supervision, or is consistently dirty or hungry.
  • Child has unexplained burns, bites, or bruises. Or, may have difficulty walking, sitting, or playing.
  • You notice a child is always watchful, as though preparing for something bad to happen, is reluctant to be around a particular person, or does not want to go home.
  • Child demonstrates bizarre, sophisticated, or unusual sexual knowledge or behavior.
  • Child attaches very quickly to strangers or new adults in their environment, and may demonstrate inappropriate physical boundaries such as wanting to hold hands, hug, or sit on a strangers lap.

Week 3: Consequences of Child Abuse and Neglect

Physical: Child abuse and neglect can result in a number of physical health issues such as broken bones, hemorrhages, brain damage and impaired development. Many of these physical health issues can linger well into adulthood and even for a lifetime.
Psychological: The psychological effects of abuse and neglect, such as, isolation, fear, and an inability to trust can translate into lifelong consequences – including low self-esteem, depression, and relationship difficulties.
Behavioral: More than half of children who experience abuse and neglect demonstrate severe behavior problems such as, substance abuse, truancy, high dropout rates, teen pregnancy, and delinquency. In fact, child victims of abuse and neglect are nine times more likely to become involved in criminal activities, and seven times more likely to abuse their own children someday.
Societal: While child abuse and neglect usually occur within the family, the impact does not end there. Society as a whole pays a price for child abuse and neglect, in terms of both direct and indirect costs.

  • Direct costs: In 2012 Montana spent nearly $67 million dollars for child welfare services.
    That does not include costs associated with police time, attorney costs, court costs related to prosecution, or any jail or prison costs.
    *The number of children in placement has doubled since 2008. If this trend continues over the next 8 years, that $67 million dollars is likely to double as well!
  • Indirect costs: Indirect costs include increased dropout rates resulting in fewer and less skilled people prepared for the work force, higher numbers of people on assistance, higher rates of homelessness, poverty, and a continuation of the cycle of abuse and neglect. Other costs include a need for more police, more social workers to investigate and handle increased caseloads, more county attorneys to handle increasing court cases, and an increase in providers like Watson’s and many others to provide services to children in care.

Pick up a sticker and help us “DRIVE” home the message

YOU can help us “DRIVE” home the message about this critical campaign by picking up a sticker at our Buckhouse location and displaying it on your car for the month of April. Together we can raise awareness and work towards a safer community for all children.

Buckhouse location – 4978 Buckhouse Lane, behind the PEAK Health & Wellness on Blue Mountain Rd.