Advice for Identifying and Preventing Child Abuse

April 23, 2019

Clinical Contributors to this Story

Paulett Diah, M.D. contributes to topics such as Pediatrics, Child Abuse.

Every child is entitled to a nurturing environment bolstered by safety, security and happiness, whether at home, at school or in the care of a friend or family member.

According to the CDC, about 674,000 children victims of child abuse or neglect were identified by child protective service agencies in 2017 and about one in four children have experienced abuse or neglect at some point in their lives. To help boost awareness and provide a voice to the victims who need it most, April has been designated National Child Abuse Prevention Month.

Paulett Diah, M.D., FAAP, a child abuse pediatrician, recently shared the following tips to remind parents and caregivers that, when it comes to identifying and preventing child abuse, it all starts with the fundamentals.

TALK.

  • Affirm and continually remind your child that they can speak to you openly and honestly about anything.
  • Remind them that nobody has the right to touch their body without their consent.
  • For older children involved in extracurricular activities, parents should be included on all communication between children and adults in the organization (including emails, phone contact, and text messaging).

TEACH.

  • Teach children the name of their genitals. This can be the anatomical name or the family’s preferred name to use (within reason, should they have to report it, the trusted adult should know what he/she is referring to). This will aide children in feeling more comfortable discussing them with you.
  • Teach children to respect the privacy of others.
  • Teach children that there should never be secrets between children and their parents.

Nowhere is the physical and emotional impact of abuse as severe as among its youngest victims. For that reason, Dr. Diah offers these tips for parents and/or caregivers dealing with the challenges of caring for an infant.

  • It can be very stressful to deal with a crying baby, particularly when nothing seems to calm him or her. Remember, you should NEVER shake, throw, jerk or hit a baby. This can lead to serious outcomes, including seizures, disabilities, and even death of the baby.
  • If your baby does not stop crying, contact your pediatrician to examine for a possible medical cause to the crying.
  • It is okay to take a break. Ensure that the baby is in a safe place (such as a crib or bassinet) and leave the room for about 15 minutes. Just make sure to check on the baby every five minutes.

Audrey Hepburn Children’s House at Hackensack University Medical Center conducts evaluations and provide therapy sessions to children and families who are in need of a controlled and safe setting. The team is comprised of psychologists, social workers, child life specialists, pediatricians and nurses, all with the same goal in mind—to help children stay safe. Click here to learn more.

The material provided through HealthU is intended to be used as general information only and should not replace the advice of your physician. Always consult your physician for individual care.

Sources:
CDC: Child Abuse Prevention
HealthyChildren.org: What do know about Child Abuse
HealthyChildren.org: Abusive Head Trauma – Shaken Baby Syndrome
HealthyChildren.org: Sexual Abuse
HealthyChildren.org: Preventing Abuse in Youth Sports and Organized Activities
HealthyChildren.org: Creating a Safe Environment to Prevent Abuse in Youth Sports