Tuesday, April 7, 2015

Schmidt: Wear blue Friday for child abuse prevention

KANSAS CITY, KAN. – Kansas Attorney General Derek Schmidt and the Kansas Child Death Review Board are encouraging Kansans to wear blue on April 10 to increase awareness of child abuse.

The effort is part of April’s observance of Child Abuse Prevention Month and the Blue Ribbon Campaign to Prevent Child Abuse.

“We all have a responsibility to help keep children safe,” Schmidt said. “Keeping a watchful eye for the signs of child abuse can help protect our Kansas children.”

The Kansas Child Death Review Board says 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.

Abusive parents or caregivers may belittle children by either directly criticizing them or using subtle put-downs disguised as humor. They rationalize their behavior as a form of discipline aimed at helping the child. Abusers also avoid talking about their child’s injuries.

Victims of child abuse may exhibit a lack of trust, are fearful or anxious about going home, have uncontrolled emotions, and lash out in anger. They may become depressed and withdraw from others. Unexplained injuries, excessive sadness or crying and difficulty sleeping can also be signs of abuse. Children who are neglected often 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.

“A variety of factors can contribute to child abuse,” said Angela Nordhus, executive director of the Kansas Child Death Review Board. “Stress, lack of understanding of child development and behavior, parental substance abuse and mental illness can all contribute to abusive behavior. It often arises when emotions are running high and are poorly controlled.”

While physical abuse is the most visible form, emotional abuse, sexual abuse and neglect also result in serious harm. Ignoring children’s needs, putting them in unsupervised or dangerous situations or creating a sense of being unwanted, are all forms of abuse.

April was first declared as Child Abuse Prevention Month by President Ronald Reagan in 1983. The Blue Ribbon Campaign to Prevent Child Abuse was begun in 1989 by a Virginia grandmother in memory of her grandson, who died due to child 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.