Editorial: Abuse and neglect down, but not forgotten

Apr. 02, 2013 @ 09:11 PM

It’s time again for pinwheels and blue ribbons, remembrances of a problem that seems to improve but never quite goes away.

April is Child Abuse Prevention Month, now in its 30th year, during which the federal Office on Child Abuse and Neglect coordinates activities and shares statistics about abuse and neglect cases.

Since July 2012, North Carolina statistics show, we’ve seen more than 30,823 reports of abuse and neglect. Most of the first-time reported victims are children younger than 5. Most are white, although black victims come in second.

A report published by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services shows an overall decrease nationwide in the number and rates of victimization of children between 2007 and 2011.

That’s an improvement, but at 676,569 reported victims, that still amounts to 9.1 victims per every 1,000 children in our population.

We must do better, as parents and communities, to improve outcomes for children and ensure that they aren’t suffering abuse or neglect.

We’re grateful that, locally, Duke Children’s Hospital offers a service for consulting on child abuse and neglect, which is designed to – among other things - give guidance to doctors referring these cases, establish standards and procedures for abuse and neglect medical evaluations and to provide training about the medical, social and legal aspects of abuse and neglect.
Everyone has bad days, but it’s important to rein in stress and learn how to cope responsibly with a child throwing a tantrum.

For stress, the HHS recommends that you watch for warning signs in yourself, such as irritability, a sense of hopelessness, difficulty making decisions, frequent worrying and argumentativeness.

Figure out what’s bothering you. Accept what you can’t change and take smaller steps to tackle bigger issues that you can handle. Relax. Take time to play with your kids. Eat well and exercise. Hire a babysitter and take time for yourself.

Get a support network. Never be afraid to ask for help from friends and relatives.

As for tantrums, a common source of strife for parents of children ages 2-3, the HHS recommends that parents stay calm and wait it out. “Do not let your child’s behavior cause you to lose control too,” the agency’s tip sheet reads.

For more information, check out www.childwelfare.gov.