For more information, please call 304-526-2049
Children are never to blame for the harm others do to them. Child maltreatment includes all types of abuse and neglect of a child under the age of 18 by a parent, caregiver or another person in a custodial role (e.g., clergy, coach, teacher). There are four common types of abuse.
The CDC has identified child maltreatment as a public health issue. The few cases of abuse or neglect we see in the news are only a small part of the problem. Many cases are not reported to the police or social services until it is too late. In the US in 2011 (the most recent statistics available):
Young children are the most vulnerable to severe injury and death from abuse for many reasons, including their dependency, small size and inability to protect or defend themselves.
Abused children often suffer physical injuries including cuts, bruises, burns, and broken bones. In addition, maltreatment causes stress that can disrupt development of the brain, the nervous system and the immune system. As a result, children who are abused or neglected are at higher risk for health problems as adults. These problems include alcoholism, depression, drug abuse, eating disorders, obesity, high-risk sexual behaviors, smoking, suicide and certain chronic diseases.
Fatal child abuse may involve repeated abuse over a period of time or it may involve a single, impulsive incident, such as drowning, suffocating or shaking a baby. In cases of fatal neglect, the child’s death results from the caregiver's failure to act. The neglect may be chronic, like extended malnourishment) or acute, such as an infant drowning after being left unsupervised in the bathtub.
In 2011, parents, acting alone or with another parent, were responsible for 78.3 percent of child abuse or neglect fatalities. Nonparents (including family and child care providers, among others) were responsible for 13.4 percent of child fatalities. Abuse and neglect occurs more often in families where there is a great deal of stress, usually due to a family history of violence, drug or alcohol abuse, poverty, and chronic health problems. Families that do not have nearby friends, relatives, and other social support are also at risk. Ongoing violence in the community may also create an environment where child abuse is accepted.
Positive parenting skills include good communication, appropriate discipline and responding to children’s physical and emotional needs. Programs to prevent child maltreatment also improve parent-child relationships and provide parents with social support. These programs may involve one-on-one or group sessions that occur in parents’ homes or in schools, clinics or other community settings.
If you sometimes lose control when parenting, or you have concerns about your parenting skills, please call 304-526-2049 to learn more about resources available to you.