By Diane Romond
Every child deserves to live in a safe and loving household, yet for hundreds of thousands of children abuse and neglect are a tragic reality. At least one in seven children have experienced child abuse or neglect in the past year, the CDC reports.
Since 1983, April has been designated Child Abuse Prevention Month in the United States. This annual observance is dedicated to raising awareness and preventing child abuse. Child Abuse Prevention Month is an opportunity to learn about the signs of child abuse and how to prevent it.
The CDC defines child abuse and neglect as “any act or series of acts of commission or omission by a parent or other caregiver (e.g., clergy, coach, teacher) that results in harm, potential for harm, or threat of harm to a child.”
According to the CDC, there are four common types of abuse and neglect:
- Physical abuse is the intentional use of physical force that can result in physical injury.
- Sexual abuse involves pressuring or forcing a child to engage in sexual acts.
- Emotional abuse refers to behaviors that harm a child’s self-worth or emotional well-being such as name-calling, shaming, rejecting, withholding love, and threatening.
- Neglect is the failure to meet a child’s basic physical and emotional needs such as housing, food, clothing, education and access to medical care.
According to Prevent Child Abuse New Jersey, in our state any person having reasonable cause to believe a child has been abused or neglected has a legal responsibility to report it to the Division of Youth and Family Services (DYFS). A concerned caller does not need proof to report an allegation of child abuse and can make the report anonymously.
To make a report, you can call New Jersey’s Child Abuse/Neglect Hotline at 1-877-NJ ABUSE (652-2873). If a child is in immediate danger, you should call 911.
Families, service providers like our YMCA and communities work tirelessly year-round to protect and nurture children and promote their well-being. As part of our commitment to protecting the children in our community, we are joining youth serving organizations across the country by participating in the Five Days of Action—a week-long campaign to increase awareness of child sexual abuse and empower and equip us all to prevent it. By taking part in this important campaign and through implementing abuse prevention practices year-round, the Fanwood-Scotch Plains YMCA is committing to the safety of all children in our community.
The Five Days of Action enforces critically important habits— KNOW.SEE.RESPOND. —which enable us to understand how and when abuse happens, recognize the signs of abuse, and quickly and appropriately respond to it. When we embrace these habits, we foster a culture of child abuse prevention—a culture of happy and healthy children!
Diane Romond is the Child Care Director at the Fanwood-Scotch Plains YMCA. Learn more about protecting the children you love at www.fivedaysofaction.org