Child Abuse Prevention

Learn how you can get involved in helping your community.

Stop Abuse

If you suspect child abuse, you must report it by law. You can remain anonymous.


(877) KYSAFE1


(800) 800-5556

Don’t think your baby can be a victim of abuse? Think again. Kentucky and Indiana have some of the highest rates of child physical abuse and neglect in the country – more than 40,000 kids a year. The catastrophic effects of child abuse are felt by families of all races, backgrounds and economic statuses. Almost every week, there is at least one child who has been injured so severely from abuse that he or she requires intensive care in the hospital’s “Just for Kids” Critical Care Center.

Prevent Bruising and Child Abuse

No one wakes up thinking they will abuse a child that day. Caregivers who may not understand child development may have inappropriate expectations of a child in their care and can become frustrated more easily when the child cannot live up to those expectations, especially if the child is younger than age 4. For example, most children are unable to stop crying on demand before age 4 or 5.

We all can do our part to keep kids safe and put an end to abuse, which is 100% preventable, by staying in control, being smart in choosing a child’s caregiver, knowing how to get support and identifying the signs before it’s too late. Here are some ways you can help:

  • If you’re a parent and you feel yourself about to lose control, it’s OK to step away. Listen to your favorite song, take a few deep breaths or call a friend.
  • Keep a list of friends’ and family members’ phone numbers to call for support.
  • If you know a parent who may need a break, offer to babysit so he or she can step away for an hour or two.
  • Offer to run an errand for a neighbor with small children who has difficulty getting out of the house. A small gesture like that can greatly reduce stress for the parent.

Child Abuse Prevention Plan of Action

Raising children is hard and sometimes frustrating. In order to deal with the difficult times safely and successfully, have a “plan of action” and share it with everyone who may care for your child in your absence. A plan of action can include:

  1. Find a parent, church or community network of warm, caring people with whom to connect for additional support.
  2. Make sure you have a safe crib (or playpen or play yard) for your baby to sleep. If you get frustrated, safely place the infant on his or her back in the crib and leave the room to calm down. Check on the baby every five minutes to make sure they are OK.
  3. Learn about normal growth and development of babies and young children, which can help you better understand your child’s behavior and have realistic expectations, especially in times of frustration. Unrealistic expectations of a baby or child’s behavior often lead to frustration, which can lead to abuse.
  4. If you’re a new parent, sleep when your baby sleeps. You and your baby both need rest! Make that a priority.
  5. Talk openly with your child’s health care provider about development and/or behavior if you have any concerns.
  6. Babies cry and may cry a lot between 2 to 8 weeks of age. Some babies cry more than others.
  7. Babies do not cry because they are mean or mad at you. It’s how they communicate.
  8. Some reasons babies cry: They are hungry, need a diaper change, are too hot/too cold or need comfort.

How to Spot Child Abuse

The TEN-4 bruising rule is a way for anyone to remember how to spot signs of abuse that need to be evaluated immediately. Just remember:

  • Torso
  • Ears
  • Neck
  • 4 years or younger

Examples of suspicious bruises can include:

  • Bruising on babies or children who are not yet able to crawl or walk
  • Bruising in clusters that occur multiple times in similar shapes and sizes
  • Bruising on the torso, ears, neck, eyes, cheeks or buttocks

Other warning signs can be detected from a caregiver’s behavior, such as:

  • A delay in seeking medical attention for the child
  • Being inconsistent or unconvincing in describing the details of an accident
  • Showing a lack of concern for the child’s injuries

If you suspect child abuse, you must report it by law. In Kentucky, call (877) KYSAFE1 (597-2331). In Indiana, call (800) 800-5556. You can remain anonymous.

Child Abuse Prevention Resources

Child Abuse Prevention for Physicians

Related Stories

Kentucky nearly doubles U.S. child abuse victim rate
Parents should avoid spanking as a form of discipline, pediatricians say
Norton Children’s receives $6 million from the state to combat child abuse
Is it child abuse? Understanding the myths vs. facts