— (Editor’s note: The following information, provided by the Child Welfare Information Gateway, is presented by the fine sponsors of To Your Health, a regular tabloid published nine months each year by the staffs of The Fayette Tribune and The Montgomery Herald.)
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 is occurring in a family, but a closer look at the situation may be warranted when these signs appear repeatedly or in combination.
If you do suspect a child is being harmed, reporting your suspicions may protect the child and get help for the family. Any concerned person can report suspicions of child abuse and neglect. Some people (typically certain types of professionals) are required by law to make a report of child maltreatment under specific circumstances — these are called mandatory reporters. For more information, see the Child Welfare Information Gateway publication, Mandatory Reporters of Child Abuse and Neglect.
For more information about where and how to file a report, contact your local child protective services agency or police department. An additional resource for information and referral is the Childhelp® National Child Abuse Hotline (800-4-A-CHILD).
Recognizing child abuse
The following signs may signal the presence of child abuse or neglect.
-- Shows sudden changes in behavior or school performance
-- Has not received help for physical or medical problems brought to the parents’ attention
-- Has learning problems (or difficulty concentrating) that cannot be attributed to specific physical or psychological causes
-- Is always watchful, as though preparing for something bad to happen
-- Lacks adult supervision
-- Is overly compliant, passive, or withdrawn
-- Comes to school or other activities early, stays late, and does not want to go home