Kansas Attorney General Derek Schmidt and the Kansas Child Death Review Board are encouraging Kansans to wear blue on April 19 to increase awareness of child abuse. The effort is part of April’s observance of Child Abuse Prevention Month.
“Our children are our state’s most precious resource,” Schmidt said. “Too often, the signs of neglect or abuse go unnoticed. This month serves as a reminder for us all to remain watchful to ensure our children grow up in a safe and healthy environment.”
Warning signs of child abuse may include parents or caregivers who lack social contact outside the family, have alcohol or drug abuse problems, or are excessively controlling or resentful of a child, according to the Kansas Child Death Review Board. Abusive parents or caregivers may belittle children by directly criticizing them or using subtle put-downs disguised as humor. Abusers often avoid talking about their child’s injuries and rationalize their behavior as a form of discipline.
Victims of child abuse can exhibit a lack of trust, are fearful or anxious about going home, have uncontrolled emotions, and lash out in anger. They may feel worthless, depressed, shameful and withdraw from others. Victims frequently have inadequately explained injuries, exhibit excessive sadness or crying and have difficulty sleeping. Children who are neglected generally have bad hygiene, wear ill-fitting or dirty clothing and have untreated injuries or illnesses. They can appear underdeveloped and malnourished and have excessive school absences.
Children regularly get bruises and bumps, especially over bony areas such as the knees, elbows and shins. However, injuries on other parts of the body, such as the stomach, cheeks, ears, buttocks, mouth, or thighs raise concerns of abuse. Black eyes, human bite marks and burns seldom come from everyday play.
“Child abuse can arise from a variety of factors,” said Angela Nordhus, executive director of the Kansas Child Death Review Board. “Emotions can run high due to stress, lack of understanding of child development and behavior, parental substance abuse and mental illness. When these emotions are not controlled, everyday situations can spark abusive behavior.”
While physical abuse is the most visible form, other types of abuse, such as emotional, sexual and neglect also result in serious harm. Ignoring children’s needs, putting them in unsupervised or dangerous situations or creating a sense of worthlessness or being unwanted, are all forms of abuse.
To report suspected cases of child abuse or neglect, call the Kansas Protection Report Center at 800-922-5330. In cases in which the child may be in imminent danger, call 911. For additional information, visit www.ag.ks.gov, or call 785-296-7970.