Taking steps to prevent child abuse

Kentucky and Indiana have some of the highest rates of child physical abuse in the country. We all can do our part to keep kids safe and put an end to abuse by staying in control, choosing a child’s caregiver well and knowing how to get support.

“Sadly, a number of factors impact child abuse, including a lack of understanding of how children develop and expectations of how a child should behave,” said Stephen P. Wright, M.D., medical director of Norton Children’s Hospital. “Alcohol and substance abuse, financial pressures and the inability to provide for the family can cause a parent to feel overwhelmed, unable to cope and more likely to lose control when pressure becomes too great.”

Tips for keeping your child safe

Crying is normal and does not mean your baby is “bad” or you are doing a bad job. You may not always be able to stop the crying and that is OK. If you begin feeling frustrated, put the baby in a safe place, such as a crib or bassinet, and take a few minutes for yourself. Calm down by listening to music, taking a shower or calling a family member or friend. It’s OK to be frustrated with a crying baby, but it’s never OK to shake or harm a baby.

Caring for small children requires patience, knowledge of basic child development, basic child-rearing skills and self-control. If you don’t have complete trust in a person, don’t let him or her watch your child. Make sure anyone who cares for your child is prepared and wants to watch your child. A new boyfriend/girlfriend, someone who is violent toward you or a pet, and someone who abuses substances or alcohol should not be trusted with your child.

Bruising is a warning sign of abuse. It is not normal to have bruising of any kind on a baby who is not yet crawling. For a child of any age, bruising on the

  • ears
  • neck
  • torso
  • buttocks,
  • or genitals is not normal.

If you see this kind of bruising, take your child to the doctor immediately. The same goes for burns.

Toddlers are especially prone to abuse during toilet-training accidents. Having unrealistic expectations about toilet training can increase frustration and lead to abuse.

Keep a list of phone numbers that you can call for support if you are feeling frustrated or angry. Professional organizations are also available to help:

Prevent Child Abuse Kentucky
(800) CHILDREN/(800) 244-5373 or www.pcaky.org

Prevent Child Abuse Indiana
(317) 775-6439 or www.pcain.org

–Michelle Robey

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