A report of child abuse is made every 10 seconds in the United States, and child abuse and neglect cost our nation $220 million every day in investigations, foster care placements, medical and mental health treatment, special education, juvenile and adult crime and chronic health problems across the lifespan.
The COVID-19 pandemic has negatively impacted children and families in multiple ways, including increases in housing, job and food insecurities and serious health challenges. These stressors lead to increased family violence, including more sexual abuse, more serious forms of child physical abuse, more children witnessing domestic violence and a substantial increase in online sexual exploitation of children. The Arthur D. Curtis Children’s Justice Center (CJC) responded to 40% more cases in 2021 than it did in pre-pandemic 2019. But child abuse is preventable.
April is National Child Abuse Prevention Month. Child abuse impacts all cultures, races, economic statuses and communities, including ours.
Learn the signs and symptoms of child maltreatment. Report suspected abuse to child protection and law enforcement. Take steps to keep children safe. Teach them to recognize and respond to their “uh-oh” feelings. Help them identify five trusted adults to talk to when they are scared, confused or unsure. Tell them that “secrets” are not OK in families, but that short-term surprises are. There are many ways to keep our children — and our community — safe.
This month and throughout the year, CJC encourages all individuals and organizations to play a role in making Clark County a better place for children and families. By ensuring that parents have the knowledge, skills and resources they need to care for their children, we can help prevent child abuse and neglect and make meaningful connections with children, youth and families in our communities.
Join us as we work to achieve these goals. We call upon our community members to ask youth-serving organizations what they are doing to protect children, to support caregivers during challenging times, to recognize the signs and symptoms of child maltreatment and to report suspected abuse to the authorities. There is no reason to stay silent. Your report could save a child’s life.
Amy Russell is the executive director of the Arthur D. Curtis Children’s Justice Center.
The Clark County-based center is a nationally-accredited children’s advocacy center that provides alleged child victims of abuse and witnesses of violent crime a safe and supportive place to recount their experiences.
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