By Sarah Te Slaa, Multimedia Producer/ Anchor - email
April is Child Abuse Prevention Month.
April is Child Abuse Prevention Month. Nearly 6 million kids are reported to be abused every year in the US. Child abuse is completely preventable, and getting the word out to parents and caregivers can keep kids safe.
The Mercy Child Advocacy Center is a first stop for many children who've been abused.
"Kids come here as sort of a neutral, child-friendly place to be able to tell their story about abuse and we also do physical examinations on kids to help with those investigations," says Amy Scarmon, an interviewer at The Mercy Child Advocacy Center.
She talks to kids who come into the center.
"We just kind of ask them about anything going on with them, bothering them, or anything they want to talk about," says Scarmon. "We'll talk about different kinds of things like touching and if they've been hurt."
She says child abuse happens in all communities, social classes, and age groups.
According to childwelfare.gov, there are several signs of abuse to watch out for. Look for things like sudden changes in behavior or school performance, lack of medical attention, learning problems or difficulty concentrating, lack of adult supervision. Also, is the child overly compliant, passive, or withdrawn? Does the child exhibit watchful behavior? Do they not want to go home?
"If you do suspect abuse, I think it's important to talk with your child, but at the same time make the abuse report because it needs to be addressed immediately," says Scarmon.
And Scarmon says be a good role model and know what's going on with your kids.
"The best thing you can do as a parent is to be involved in kids lives because that creates less opportunity for anyone else to be involved to potentially hurt them," says Scarmon. "The more involved you are, the less likely someone is going to have that opportunity."
To recognize Child Abuse Prevention Month, the Mercy Child Advocacy Center encourages everyone to wear blue on April 19th. "National Blue Out Day" is to remember children who have suffered from abuse and support the efforts to prevent abuse.
Call 1.800.CHILDREN to learn what resources are available in your area of the state.
Call the Department of Human Services (DHS) at 1.800.362.2178 to report abuse.
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