Be Aware of Child Maltreatment
With April being National Child Abuse Prevention Month, it is important for members of our community to know the warning signs of child abuse and neglect. Some signs of possible child abuse include: bruises, welts, burns or fractures, dirty appearance, malnourishment, loss of appetite, disturbed sleep, frequent urinary tract infections, sudden behavior changes, clinging, anxiety, withdrawal or aggression, fear of a person or place, avoiding physical contact or suicidal thoughts.
As parents: never leave your children alone, teach self-protection skills, listen to your child’s fears and concerns, identify people your child might trust, choose babysitters carefully, monitor your child’s internet use, recognize possible signs of child abuse and ask for help if you need it.
As educators: recognize signs of possible abuse, learn the process for reporting abuse, learn about available community resources and don’t be afraid to get involved.
As social service and health professionals: recognize any signs of possible abuse, know your state’s laws about abuse, learn mandated reporting requirements, offer classes in parenting skills, start a mentoring program for parents, advocate laws against child predators and don’t be afraid to get involved.
As family, friends, and neighbors: recognize signs of child abuse, listen to a child’s fears or concerns, be a mentor to a stressed parent and don’t be afraid to get involved.
If you suspect child maltreatment or abuse, report it. You could contact the child’s doctor, the school nurse, a teacher or counselor, local law enforcement, the child welfare department or call Montana’s Statewide Toll-Free Child Abuse Hotline at 1-866-820-KIDS. For more information on parenting resources and programs available for parents, call Nicole Hackley at 406-433-4097 or email [email protected].