The end of summer and the start of a new school year is an exciting time for most children. But for some, the beginning of school could reveal a dark secret when signs of the abuse and neglect these children have suffered over the summer are noticed by teachers, staff, and other parents.
“Because children are subject to less adult supervision over the summer, it’s not uncommon for reports of suspected abuse and neglect to spike at the start of the school year,” said Rosemary Conder, Executive Director of CASA of Ohio Valley.
Child abuse is more than bruises and broken bones. While physical abuse might be the most visible, other types of abuse, such as emotional abuse and neglect, also leave deep, lasting scars. The earlier abused children get help, the greater chance they have to heal and break the cycle—rather than perpetuate it. By learning about common signs of abuse and what you can do to intervene, you can make a huge difference in a child’s life!
A few signs of abuse are physical and involve:
- Frequent injuries or unexplained bruises, welts, or cuts.
- Is always watchful and “on alert,” as if waiting for something bad to happen.
- Injuries appear to have a pattern such as marks from a hand or belt.
- Shies away from touch, flinches at sudden movements, or seems afraid to go home.
- Wears inappropriate clothing to cover up injuries, such as long-sleeved shirts on hot days.
- “Acting out” behavior. Cursing, hitting, angry or withdrawn,
Signs of neglect include:
- Hunger, lack of nutrition
- Clothes are ill-fitting, filthy, or inappropriate for the weather.
- Hygiene is consistently bad (unbathed, matted and unwashed hair, noticeable body odor).
- Untreated illnesses and physical injuries.
- Is frequently unsupervised or left alone or allowed to play in unsafe situations and environments.
- Is frequently late or missing from school.
Many of the children who are confirmed as victims are removed from their homes and placed into foster care—often far from their friends, families, and schools. CASA (Court Appointed Special Advocates) volunteers from Daviess County are specially screened and trained to speak up for abused and neglected children who, through no fault of their own, end up in the foster care system.
“Being uprooted from their homes and families is scary for these children. We at CASA of Ohio Valley want to make sure that they do not get lost in the overburdened foster care system,” Conder said. “For that reason, we need more people in our community to speak up and make sure these children’s voices are heard. We want to help ensure that their stay in foster care is as short as possible and that they are placed in safe, loving homes quickly so they can begin to heal.”
It is a law to report suspected child abuse situations. The law states that it is the duty of everyone who has reasonable cause to believe that a child is dependent, abused or neglected to report this information. You could save a life!
Child Protection Hot Line: 1-877-KYSAFE1 or 1-877-597-2331.
To hear about volunteer opportunities, or to learn more about child abuse and neglect, contact CASA of Ohio Valley at 270-683-2138 or email at [email protected].