April is National Child Abuse Prevention Month, and a Prisma Health Children’s Hospital-Midlands expert wants to offer tips to help the community recognize and prevent child abuse.
“April is the month we recognize the importance of protecting children by highlighting ways we can help prevent child abuse and neglect,” said Dr. L. Alex Young, a child abuse pediatrician at Prisma Health Children’s Hospital-Midlands.
To help raise awareness, our Child Life team participated in the “Pinwheels for Prevention” campaign. Pinwheels are the national symbol of child abuse prevention and a visible reminder of the happy and healthy childhood that all children deserve.
How prevalent is child abuse and neglect?
Nationally, neglect made up 75 percent of victims of maltreatment, according to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. Physical abuse accounted for 18 percent. The highest rate of maltreatment was in children in their first year of life.
In South Carolina, neglect accounted for 60 percent of child abuse cases, while physical abuse accounted for 53 percent and sexual abuse accounted for 4 percent. The sum is greater than 100 percent because some children were victims of more than one type of maltreatment. Similar to the national statistics, the highest rate of abuse occurred during a child’s first year of life.
How can we work toward preventing child abuse? Young recommends that we consider the different developmental stages:
– Prenatal: Educate parents to avoid illicit drug use to prevent in utero (in the womb) exposure;
– Infant: Give parents anticipatory guidance about crying and sleeping patterns and how to handle these…
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