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Reporting Child Abuse/Neglect
Don't ignore the signs. Be responsible. Help protect children at risk & in crisis.
The Reality & Devastation of childhood abuse/neglect.
Child abuse, like domestic violence, is one of those ugly facts of life that have existed since the beginning of time. Ugly, because no one wants this wretched family secret to be exposed, for the plain and simple truth is, it is unacceptable and shameful. Sadly, another simple truth is that for many decades in our society, great pain was taken to keep these behaviors swept under the rug.
In the case of child abuse and/or blatant neglect, all too often children knew no better. Mistreatment was all they ever knew. In far too many cases, abused children were threatened to never speak of what went on in their homes. It was all part of the sickness. Families in turmoil, riddled with dysfunction, maintained the cycle of violence behind closed doors, supported by ignorance and secrecy. For too long, abused children suffered physical and mental injuries in silence, this pain to last a lifetime. There was no help, no support and hoping to be rescued, was a hope in vain.
Nearly impossible to look at
Naturally, the vast majority of decent, loving and moral individuals are not even capable of imagining the harming of an innocent small child. That thought sickens and literally can torment us. For this very reason, it is nearly impossible to come to terms with the reality that the existence of abuse is rampant.
Yes, this is one of those outrageous brutalities of life that must be dealt with one child, one family, one issue at a time. It must be done swiftly and painstakingly, no matter the cost, no matter the effort. We cannot and must not allow the lame excuses of under funding to stand between our responsibilities to these children and their very lives.
The problems caused by false-reporting are of course stumbling blocks. This however should be no reason to slow our processes down. These situations can be expected and once known, can be easily separated from the dire cases requiring immediate attention.
Disease ignored, does not heal. It spreads.
It is fairly accurate to say that a huge number of the people we know, have been exposed to the existence of children being abused by someone in one form or another. Perhaps you have witnessed this atrocity taking place in your own neighborhood, or within your family circle. You may even hold within, painful memories of severe maltreatment by your parents. I am so sorry to state that child abuse is not a rare thing, but rather all too common. Should you want to doubt this reality, please know that you delude yourself, though I cannot blame you for attempting to reject this sickening fact. Could we not all be more at peace and comfort believing that not one more child would suffer?
It is toward this end we must move. With our eyes wide-opened and armed with statistics that can no longer be denied, we become aware of the part we must play in protecting every child possible, from the monsters who stalk and harm them. It truly is up to us....to you and me and those who would help each precious child, every innocent life.
Be aware, alert and ACT.
In terms of reporting child abuse to authorities:
Child Protective Services & other agencies
Speaking for our country, the U.S. of America, there are agencies and organizations created for the sole purpose of child protection and safety, throughout the country. Most of these, supported by our tax dollars on a local, State or Federal level, they assume various responsibilities and duties related to numerous aspects of health, safety and welfare of minors. Minors, in the legal sense, where there is necessity for intervention when a responsible, appropriate adult cannot or will not care for a child properly.
If you're paying attention, by the looks of things based on sheer need, there are not nearly enough of these agencies, nor are those few we have, staffed sufficiently enough. Have you not heard the repeated horror stories?
The undernourished, unkempt, bruised little toddler is removed from her/his abusive, drug-addicted parent's home and placed in foster care for a period of time. During this time, the authorities conduct their investigation into the lives of the parents, interview neighbors, family and friends and a judge may order parenting classes and/or rehabilitation for the parents. These are the lucky children. Due to the very nature of these child services, they are wrought with flaws and we're reminded of those children who just "fell through the cracks."
Often, against better judgement, despite precarious situations, the child is ultimately returned to the home with his/her biological parents. How many times must we learn that this very child sooner or later dies at the hands of his/her parents....or lack of food and supervision? Adding insult to tragedy, we will hear that social workers are overwhelmed with caseloads. "It's the lack of funding." It is always the money. The shame belongs to all of us. In the greatest nation on earth, our most precious resources are dying for lack of funds? The utter insanity of this is mind-boggling, wouldn't you agree?
All is not lost.
It would be much too easy to shake our heads in dismay and walk away. We might even console our heavy hearts by believing someone else will take care of this massive social illness. Can we place our trust in the hands of authorities who have warned us they are underfunded? Perhaps we will excuse our lack of action by claiming we must take care of our own and haven't time for more of society's problems.
Filing a report of suspected child abuse may be all that we can do. Is it enough to truly be of any real help? To this I would respond that it's a huge step above doing nothing at all.....just closing our eyes. Each of us has to take a stand. Chaos and pain will continue and spread unless and until one person takes a step, utters a word and offers a hand. To do the right thing for the right reasons.....this can continue and spread as well. It will be a struggle. It may be a fight to the finish, but we know it must be fought.
Children are a gift to the world. They are our future, our richest resource and our wisest investments. If we do nothing to help a child in need or protect them from danger, are we not a party to what will be lacking in the future of our world? I find nothing more powerful than to bring up the children to be fearless and loving....courageous and peaceful. In order for this to be reality, they must first receive these things from those they trust and look up to. Those people are us.....me and you. For every monster who would harm a child, those of us who will fight against them, must be ten-fold.
Reporting by Professionals
There are those professionals who are required by law to report suspected child abuse immediately. A few, but not all of these individuals are doctors, nurses, teachers and child caretakers. In the case of the average citizen or non-professional individual, it is a choice based upon their own degree of a sense of responsibility and concern for the child.
Should you find yourself in the situation to make that call, I implore you to do so.
Child Abuse Hotline: Where to call to get help or report abuse. (If you suspect a child is in immediate danger, contact local law enforcement as soon as possible.)
To get Help in the U.S. Call: