What is Child Abuse or Neglect?
According to the Missouri Legislature the following definitions apply to abuse and neglect:
Any physical injury, sexual abuse, or emotional abuse inflicted on a child other than by accidental means by those responsible for the child's care, custody, and control; except that discipline including spanking, administered in a reasonable manner, shall not be construed to be abuse.
The failure to provide the child the proper or necessary support, education as required by law, nutrition or medical, surgical, or any other care necessary for the child's well-being by those responsible for their care, custody, and control.
Those responsible for the care, custody, and control of the child include, but are not limited to, the parents or guardian of a child, other members of the child's household, or those exercising supervision over a child for any part of a twenty-four hour day. Those responsible for the care, custody and control shall also include any adult who, based on their relationship to the parents of the child, members of the child's household or family, has access to the child.
The answers provided above come from the Jackson County, Missouri Family Court Handbook.
Child abuse is a problem that concerns us all! Can it be prevented? YES! Child abuse and neglect can be prevented or stopped through the efforts of schools, neighbors, families and the community.
To help us prevent child abuse, here are things you can do:
- Understand the causes of child abuse and learn all you can about abuse and neglect.
- Learn to identify the warning signs that signal that a child is being abused.
- Report any known or suspected case of child abuse immediately.
- Seek help if you feel you are at risk of abusing a child.
- Be a friend to a child or parent in need.
- Alert others to the problem and help them to recognize and understand the effects of physical, sexual and emotional abuse and neglect.
To break the cycle of abuse, CAPA provides counseling to children and their families after abuse has occurred. When a child is able to heal from abuse and learn how to keep her/himself safe, the chances of additional abuse occurring are greatly reduced. CAPA also provides Family Support Services and Educational opportunities that help reduce the risk factors that cause abuse/neglect before it occurs.
Tips for Parents
Below are some tips to help parents prevent or detect abuse:
- Be involved in your children's activities.
- Notice when someone spends a lot of time with your child. Talk with your child about what they do, who else is there, what kind of games they play, etc.
- Believe your child. Listen seriously and sensitively to what your child says.
- Teach your child to "Say no, get away, and to tell someone," if anyone tries to touch him or her inappropriately.
- Tell your child, "Your body belongs to you."
- Explain to your child not to keep secrets that feel scary or uncomfortable.
- Go through rules with your babysitter while your child is present.
- Bad things sometimes happen, even when we do our best to avoid them.
- Discuss abuse prevention in a constructive manner, just as you would other safety concerns. Fear does not keep children safe.
- If abuse occurs, remember that it is not the child's fault.
- Report the abuse and make sure to seek medical help immediately.
- Listen to what your child has to say, and remember to remain calm.
What to do if you believe your child, or any child, is being abused or neglected:
- Obtain medical attention for the child immediately, if necessary.
- Insure that the child has no further contact with anyone you believe may be committing the abuse or neglect.
- Notify the Child Abuse Hotline in your state and/or local police.
- Missouri: 800-392-3738 or 573-751-3448
- Kansas: 800-922-5330
- National Hotline: 800-422-4453
- Cooperate with the authorities investigating your report.
- Insure that the child receives all necessary medical and psychological help. Check in the Yellow Pages under Mental Health, or contact your local United Way.
CAPA is a treatment provider and only serves the Kansas City, MO metropolitan area. If you have concerns about child abuse, each state has an abuse hotline where you can make a confidential report. The national number is listed above. If you, or someone you know, needs assistance or additional information, check the phonebook or yellow pages for the following resources: Hotlines, Child Protective Services, Mental Health, Social/Family Services, Parents Anonymous, or Family Resource Agencies.