Keep watch for “Silent Tears” of child abuse

  • Published
  • By Ruth A. Pitsenbarger
  • 55th Medical Group Family Advocacy Program
April is National Child Abuse Prevention Month, a time to focus on the protection and care of our children.

Child Abuse Prevention Month has been observed each April since its first presidential proclamation in 1983. This observance helps citizens across the country and the Offutt community to focus on the tragedies of child abuse, as well as prevention programs that are available.

The theme for 2009 is "Silent Tears." Meaning children are unable to speak out against abuse and as adults we must speak for them. Furthermore, speaking out against child abuse is a responsibility shared by all.

The first step in helping abused or neglected children is learning to recognize the signs of child abuse and neglect. The presence of a single sign does not prove child abuse; however, when these signs appear repeatedly or in combination, we should take a closer look at the situation and consider the possibility of child abuse.

The following may signal the presence of child abuse or neglect.

· Sudden changes in behavior or school performance
· Physical or medical problems that haven't been taken care of even after being brought to the parents' attention
· Always being watchful, as if preparing for something bad to happen
· Lack of adult supervision
· Overly compliant, passive or withdrawn
· Coming to school or other activities early, staying late and refusing to go home
· Learning problems or difficulty concentrating that can't be attributed to physical or psychological causes.

As we observe Child Abuse Prevention Month, we've planned several activities in the community they include "Wear Blue Day" at the Child Development Center April 15, the fourth Annual Parent University April 18 and a family fun fair at the Youth Center April 25.

The Parent University consists of a half day of workshops for parents, grandparents, childcare providers, educators and others who want to learn more about child rearing and positive interaction skills. The program is designed to provide information on a variety of topics appropriate for parents with children of any age. Parenting, like other education, is an ongoing and lifelong learning process.

For more information on the signs of child abuse or events planned this month, call the Family Advocacy office at 294-7886.