April is Child Abuse Awareness month

Jessica Robinson

While most turn their thoughts to spring weather in April, the month is also a time that brings awareness to child abuse.

The American Society for the Positive Care of Children notes that a report of child abuse is made every 10 seconds.

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services reports that more than four children die each day because of child abuse. It reports that about 30 percent of abused and neglected children will later abuse their own children. Also noted is approximately 70 percent of children that die from abuse are under the age of 4.

A blue pinwheel symbolizes the awareness and every Thursday in April is designated to wearing blue. The theme this year is “Growing a Better Tomorrow for All Children, Together.”

Manderson Mayor Dennis Chambers recently made a proclamation designating the month as Child Abuse Awareness Month. The town is putting up a calendar of events for the month. There are plans to have an event on April 24 for the children to meet with law enforcement at the Town Hall, but those plans were not finalized as of press time.

BHC Sheriff Ken Blackburn emphasized the importance of protecting the vulnerable and the youth. In regards to child abuse, he said that most people don’t realize they deal with cases on a daily basis.

Blackburn referred to a recent case in Park County in which two Cody residents were arrested last Wednesday and charged with felony aggravated child abuse. The 2-year-old child died on Sunday of the injuries that were sustained. According to an article from the Cody Enterprise, Park County Prosecuting Attorney Jack Hatfield said at the initial hearing on Friday the state is likely to press first-degree murder charges and possibly the death penalty.

Blackburn said it’s closer to home. He noted there are two child abuse cases working through the courts in this county. He said these cases take an emotional toll on the child, parents, law enforcement and social workers.

Signs of child abuse include changes in behavior or changes in school performance. The child may be withdrawn from friends or usual activities. There may be frequent absences from school and reluctance to leave school activities.

For physical abuse, detecting unexplained injuries, such as bruises, fractures, welts, or burns. Also to look for is injuries that don’t match the given explanation.

Sexual abuse signs and symptoms include sexual behavior or knowledge that is inappropriate for the child’s age to suddenly refusing to participate in physical activities.

Emotional abuse includes delayed or inappropriate emotional development, loss of self-confidence or self-esteem, decrease in school performance, seeking affection, or loss of previously acquired developmental skills.

Child neglect signs and symptoms range from lack of clothing and supplies to meet physical needs, poor hygiene, hiding food for later, and lack of appropriate attention for medical, dental or psychological problems or lack of necessary follow-up.

A parent’s behavior can also provide red flags for child abuse. Those signs include showing little concern for the child, blaming the child for problems, using harsh physical discipline, severely limiting the child’s contact with others, and offers conflicting or unconvincing explanations for a child’s injuries or no explanation at all.

If someone suspects a child is being abused, Sheriff Blackburn advises to contact law enforcement. He added that it is better to do that instead of not doing so.