April Is Child Abuse Prevention Month
Child abuse is a major problem in our society, with more than 3 million reports of child abuse made in the United States each year. People abused as children often go on to abuse their own children, and the cycle can continue for generations.
Everyone can help children and families break the cycle, but most people are not aware of how to do it. For this reason, April has been designated as Child Abuse Prevention Month, with the goal of educating people about common signs of abuse and what can be done to intervene. The earlier abused children get help, the greater chance they have of healing.
Anyone involved with child abuse needs help and legal assistance. The seasoned and experienced Illinois family law and defense attorneys at Wolfe & Stec, Ltd. can help families break the cycle and deal with abuse issues, and we can also defend clients who may be charged with abuse. We offer a free consultation to discuss your legal options, so contact us online or call our office.
What is Child Abuse and Neglect?
Child abuse occurs when a parent or caregiver, either by taking action or failing to act, causes injury, death, emotional harm or risk of serious harm to a child.
It’s important to recognize when abuse is happening so intervention can occur as early as possible. While physical abuse, beatings and the resulting bruises and broken bones are immediately visible. There are other types of abuse, such as sexual abuse and emotional abuse and neglect, which are less obvious but can damage as well.
1) Physical abuse
Physical abuse involves physical harm or injury to the child, either through a deliberate attempt to hurt the child or to discipline in order to make children behave. Physical abuse has the following elements:
- Unpredictability –The child never knows what is going to set the parent off and trigger a physical assault.
- Lashing out in anger –Physically abusive parents act out of anger and the desire to assert control.
- Using fear to control behavior.
2) Emotional Abuse and Neglect
These types of abuse include ignoring and not providing for children’s basic needs. Putting children in unsupervised, dangerous situations. Or making them feel worthless, stupid, and unloved.
Examples of emotional child abuse include:
- Constant belittling, shaming, and humiliating, calling names and making negative comparisons to others.
- Telling children they’re “no good,” “worthless,” “bad,” or “a mistake”.
- Frequent yelling, threatening, or bullying.
- Ignoring or rejecting a child as punishment, giving them the silent treatment, and limiting physical contact and signs of affection.
- Exposing children to violence against others.
3) Sexual abuse
Sexual abuse may involve body contact or exposing a child to sexual situations or material, whether or not touching is involved. Sexually abused children are often tormented by shame and guilt and feel that they are responsible for or contributed to the abuse.
Illinois Child Abuse Law
Illinois law, 325 ILCS 5/, the Abused and Neglected Child Reporting Act, defines an abused child as one whose parent, immediate family member, or person responsible for the child’s welfare inflicts or allows physical injury to the child that causes disfigurement, impairment, or death. In addition, it includes the infliction of excessive corporeal punishment, commission of torture, or the sale or transfer of a dangerous controlled substance.
Child abuse can be charged according to the circumstances of the offense. A charge of aggravated battery or predatory sexual assault of a child is a Class X felony, with a minimum sentence of six to thirty years in prison, plus fines. A conviction could make it more difficult to obtain gainful employment, to hold certain professional licenses and to get student loans.
Effects of Child Abuse and Neglect
All types of child abuse and neglect leave lasting scars, both physical and emotional, including personality disorders, post-traumatic stress disorder, dissociative disorders, depression, anxiety, suicidal thoughts, eating disorders, substance abuse, and aggression. Abuse damages children’s sense of self, future relationships, and ability to function at home, at work and at school.
Other symptoms to look for include:
- Lack of trust and relationship difficulties
- Feelings of being “worthless”
- Trouble regulating and expressing emotions
- Struggles with unexplained anxiety, depression, or anger
- Increased alcohol or drug abuse to numb painful feelings
Increased Risk Factors
The following factors in the home increase risk that children will be abused:
- Domestic violence
- Parental alcohol and drug abuse
- Untreated mental illness of parents
- Lack of parenting skills, often by teen parents or parents who were themselves victims of child abuse
- Parents dealing with stress issues and lack of support
What Child Abuse Prevention Month Can Do
Child abuse is a difficult subject that can be hard to accept and even harder to talk about. Child Abuse Prevention Month can help by drawing attention to the issues so that child abuse is more readily recognized in the community. This includes having abusers recognize themselves as such and encouraging them to seek help. In addition, people need to be aware of where they can turn if abuse is suspected.
If you suspect a child is being abused, speak up and report it – you may be saving their life. The Childhelp National Child Abuse Hotline is a confidential 24-hour hotline with resources to aid in every child abuse situation. Call 1-800-4-A-CHILD (1-800-422-4453) for help.
In addition, you can mentor a child or parent, advocate for policies that support the next generation, or donate time or money to local child-serving organizations.
Contact Us For Help and a Free Consultation
Anyone involved with child abuse issues needs help and legal assistance. The seasoned and experienced Illinois attorneys at Wolfe & Stec, Ltd. can help families break the cycle and deal with abuse, as well as defend clients who may be charged with abuse. Our goal is always to minimize the negative impact of the situation and to focus on protecting your freedoms, liberties and rights.
Don’t delay — for a free consultation today to discuss any child abuse issues call or contact us online. We represent clients in DuPage County, Naperville, Aurora, Wheaton, Downers Grove and Bolingbrook, and the greater Chicagoland area.