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A community matter: Child abuse results in human toll and economic burden to society

Published: Sunday, Sept. 30 2012 11:18 p.m. MDT

A parent who shows little concern for the child, denies the existence of — or asserts blame upon the child for — the child's problems in school or at home, can be a sign of neglect or abuse. Look for a parent who sees the child as worthless or entirely bad, asks other caregivers to use harsh discipline if the child misbehaves, or demands a level of physical or academic performance the child cannot achieve.

Unexplained burns, bites, bruises or broken bones can be indications of physical abuse. Frequent absence from school, insufficient clothing for the weather, abuse of alcohol or other drugs or a lack of needed medical or dental care, immunizations or glasses can be signs of neglect. Difficulty walking or sitting, a refusal to change for gym or participate in physical activities or a demonstration of bizarre, sophisticated or unusual sexual knowledge or behavior can be signs of sexual abuse.

Responding

The first line of defense is to contact your local child protective services agency or police department, Hmurovich told the Deseret News. "It can be difficult to make that call for fear of getting a relative in trouble, but the interest of the child should always take precedence."

These reports can be anonymous but require specific information, such as the who, what happened and when.

Hmurovich suggests notifying another responsible adult, such as a minister, a school teacher, a close relative, even a next door neighbor.

The support of BACA, a body of bikers that lends physical and emotional support to wounded children, was pivotal in the long road to recovery, said Dawn, the mother of those four girls back in Monticello. flip this opening of the sentence around so that it starts here with the support of BACA: that will quickly create the arc

"They came down within less than a week," Dawn said. "If my kids couldn't sleep at night, they would sit on their bikes in the driveway and guard the house. If they had a hard time at school, they would go with them to school. And every time my kids went to court, they had one of them around them. They were our angels."

Dawn said she hopes to see communities, not just organizations, encompass this mode of response to children who have been abused.

Community awareness

We cannot put the responsibility on children to protect themselves, for that's not their burden to bear, Tracey Tabet, director of Utah's Children's Justice Center Program, told the Deseret News.

In conjunction with the nationwide rollout of the One With Courage campaign, initiated by the National Children's Alliance last year, the Children's Justice Center is working with the division of Child and Family Services to launch a statewide awareness campaign that empowers and encourages adults to report child abuse when suspected, Tabet said.

Plans to develop a website are underway, Tabet told the Deseret News. The website will contain helpful information, dispel common myths and provide medical information linked to child abuse.

"The community can play a huge role in being the eyes and ears and protectors of children if they know what to look for and if they're willing to make the call," Tabet said. "It's not enough just to know what to look for, you have to be willing to act."

Everyone has a role to play in preventing abuse and neglect, Hmurovich said. "We ought to be volunteering. We ought to be participating in town hall meetings and contributing a voice to community projects. We ought to be encouraging businesses to create family friendly policies, and we ought to be questioning public leaders and social policies that impact children and families."

Child abuse: A community matter

:30 Commercial Developed in 2006 by Freestyle Marketing Group, A full service advertising agency located in Salt Lake City for Prevent Child Abuse Utah. The ad was generated as a part of a Child Abuse Prevention Community Awareness Campaign.This campaign received the American Advertising Federation's Gold "ADDY" award.

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