Austin, TX - April marks National Child Abuse Prevention Month, a time designated to acknowledge the importance of families and communities working together to prevent child abuse and neglect. It is crucial that we as Texans promote the social and emotional well-being of children and families across the State.
When it is too late for preventative measures, recognizing the signs of abuse and neglect can help in taking actions for intervention. Child abuse is any mistreatment of a child that results in harm or injury. There are four ways child may be abused and in most cases young children experience a combination of all four. Among these are:
• Physical Abuse: This includes actions such as beating, burning, or punching of an innocent child.
• Emotional Abuse: Criticizing, insulting, rejection, and the withholding of love from a child are all a part of emotional abuse that can cause mental and emotional damage to a child.
• Sexual Abuse: This is the rape, touching or fondling, and involvement of a child in pornography.
• Neglect: Failing to provide for a child's basic physical, medical, or emotional needs are all contributing factors to neglect.
Abused children who are experiencing abuse may seem nervous around adults or afraid of certain adults, reluctant to go home, be very passive and withdrawn, be aggressive and disruptive, be tired a lot, complain of nightmares or not sleeping, and feeling fearful and anxious.
Those who suffer from physical abuse will have unexplained burns, bruises, black eyes, or other injuries. In most cases these will be faded bruises or healing injuries after missing school. These abused children will also be fearful of the parent or caretaker.
Emotionally abused children will act overly mature or immature for their age, suffer from extreme changes in behavior, suffer from delays in physical or emotional development, have a lack of emotional attachment to the parent, and attempted suicide.
If being sexually abused, children will have a difficulty walking or sitting indicating injury in the genital area. Sexual knowledge or behavior beyond their age group and running away from home are two additional characteristics that point to sexual abuse.
Children who are neglected may miss school, beg for food, steal for food, steal money for food, lack medical or dental care, be frequently dirty, use alcohol or other drugs, and say there is no one at home to take care of them.
I ask the Southeast Texas community to take action and be aware of the signs of abuse in our children. Parents should be aware of their children as not all parents abuse their children out of hate. Even loving parents can succumb to factors such as a lack of parenting skills, trouble managing stress, having a history of abuse, or have a problem with alcohol or other drugs. I urge parents to take a deep breath and seek out the resources available in their communities.
Together we can prevent child abuse. For more information contact my office at (512) 463-0490 or (409) 283-3700.
P.O. Box 395,