Child abuse is a serious problem. Unfortunately, it is one that rarely gets solved. The problem seems to be hidden in the shadow of a media-driven panic. People who suffer from child abuse are too frightened to report their story for fear of being victimized again. For those who suffer, there are countless services available to help.
The National Child Abuse Association says that more than 1.8 million children in the United States are victims of some form of child abuse or neglect. While most cases of child abuse and neglect are preventable, when they occur, it is imperative that the victim receive help and get therapy. If you suspect that a loved one is being abused, or if you have any reason to believe that a child is suffering from child abuse or neglect, it is important to report the situation to the local Child Abuse Hotline or your local police department as soon as possible. You may even want to contact your local hospital to see if they have any services that can help you find out what is going on.
Child abuse or neglect has a negative impact on every individual and family affected. It can lead to a lifetime of chronic medical conditions including diabetes, hyperactivity, learning disabilities, depression, drug abuse, and mental illness. It can also have an effect on the parent’s ability to function within the family and negatively impact their relationship with the children. The emotional and mental health impacts can be life-long. These negative consequences of child abuse or neglect can only be overcome through effective treatment.
It is very important for those in charge of investigating child abuse or neglect to treat each case as unique and not to assign blame. Not only does assigning blame create tension and confusion within the victim and family, but often the wrong accusations are made as well, resulting in even more emotional trauma. Merely because two people are in a relationship, it doesn’t mean that one is at fault for the other’s actions.
The first step in providing effective child abuse and neglect prevention services is to interview every client, as well as any suspected victims, in depth about their abuse history, circumstances and relationships. Interviews will provide the investigator with vital information that will help him or her build a strong case against those who are suspected of abusing or neglecting children. D.A.R.C. investigators should always follow up with clients to ensure that no efforts have gone beyond the initial interview.
In 2002, the National Association of Social Workers released a statement saying, “tragically, despite advances in treatment, many children continue to be maltreated, abused, or neglected.” Over five million American children are in state or federal care and over three million are homeless. The conviction of someone responsible for child abuse brings suffering to not only the victim but also their family. Those charged with committing this heinous crime need to be held accountable.