April is Child Abuse Awareness Month

Tuesday, April 23, 2013 - 1:00pm

            April is Child Abuse Awareness Month, and there are many reasons to support children in need. In 2007, there were approximately 149,000 reported cases of child abuse reported in the United States, Puerto Rico, and Washington DC (Child Abuse Fact Sheet). There are many reasons to get involved and help the children who are in need of support.

            Reggie Kelsey is a great example of a child who was in need of help and support. According to movethefood.org, he aged out of the foster care system in 2001, and after 3 ½ moths of trying to live on his own, he died in the Des Moines River. Reggie worried about living independently, since he functioned at a third grade level. After he aged out of the foster care system, Reggie had tried to get the support that he needed by moving from shelter to shelter and camping outside. He had worked with the Iowa homeless Youth Center and other agencies to try to qualify for federal disability payments. As a result of Reggie’s death, the Iowa Aftercare Services network was developed to assist those who age out of the foster care system. Currently, the program includes a monthly stipend and additional services. Reggie’s Sleep Out is named in honor of Children, and its goal is to prevent another tragedy.

            Like Reggie, there are many children in the United States who are in need of help and support. On 2007, there were approximately 149,000 cases of reported child abuse in the United States, Puerto Rico, and Washington DC (Child Abuse Fact Sheet). According to the National Child Traumatic Stress Network, the kids who are at the highest risk of abuse range in age from 4—7 years old and 12—15 years old. There are several warning signs to look for with abused children, including; frequent, unexplained injuries; conflicting explanations for injuries or explanations that don’t fit with the nature of the injuries; unexplained absences from school (from children who might be kept at home for their injuries to heal); and difficulty moving or walking (which might indicate that the child is in pain).

            Not only is it important to protect the well—being of a child, it is also important to acknowledge that child abuse can also be a burden to our society. In 2008, the prevent Child Abuse America report stated that the United States spends approximately $103.8 billion annually in response to child abuse. The largest direct cost is to support the child welfare system, and other costs include hospital and medical costs, mental health care costs, and law enforcement interventions. Prevent Child Abuse America went on to report that the long term effects of abuse could be detrimental to the child’s future as well. Children who have been abused could seek out long term mental health care, become delinquent in their youth and adulthood, and struggle to maintain long term employment. There was also a link found between child abuse and long—term health effects, such as: teen pregnancy, STDs, central nervous system damage, speech problems, delayed language development, and aggressive tendencies (Societal Costs of Abuse).

The Adverse Childhood Experience study found that maltreatment of a child can lead to an increased risk of obesity, substance abuse, or heart disease (Societal Costs of Abuse). Adult survivors of child abuse are disproportionally unemployed or underemployed. In addition to health risks and decreased productivity at work, the National Institute of Justice stated that 13% of all adult violence is linked to adverse childhood treatment (Societal Costs of Abuse).

Child abuse is something that can be prevented, but everyone can do something to support this important cause. One thing that can be done is to support Reggie’s Sleep Out, which was named to honor Reggie Kelsey. The funds raised from Reggie’s Sleep Out go towards programs that help youths who age out of the foster care system to transition in to adult life (Reggie’s Sleep Out). Another thing that can be done to help youths is to report suspected child abuse to the National Child Abuse Hotline at 1—800—422—4453 or http://www.childhelp.org/get-help (Child Physical Abuse Fact Sheet). A valuable way to invest in a child is to become a Court—Appointed Special Advocate for children who are involved in the court system. According to the National CASA web—site, CASA volunteers, who are appointed by judges, advocate for children who are involved in the court system. Volunteers work with children until each case is closed and the child is placed in a safe and permanent home. Last year, more than 77,000 CASA and guardian ad—litem volunteers helped 234,000 abused children find safe, permanent homes (About Us – CASA for Children).



"About Us - CASA for Children." National CASA . Web. 18 Apr 2013.
"Child Physical Abuse Fact Sheet." National Child Traumatic Stress Network, Web. 20 Apr 201. <http://www.nctsn.org/sites/default/files/assets/pdfs/ChildPhysicalAbuse_....
"Reggie's Sleep Out." Sleep Under the Stars so Kids can Reach Them. Reggie's Sleep Out, 2011. Web. 23 Apr 2013. <http://www.reggiessleepout.org/>.
"Remembering Reggie." Move the Food, 9 Feb 2013. Web. <http://movethefood.org/remembering-reggie/>.
"Societal Costs of Child Abuse." Prevent Child Abuse America. Web. <https://www.childwelfare.gov/can/impact/consequences.cfm>.

About The Author
Johanna Turner