You suspect a child is being battered or otherwise mistreated. What do you do?
Some argue we remove children from the home too quickly while others contend we don’t act quickly enough.
Whether you agree authorities step in too soon or not soon enough, the fact remains child abuse is a growing problem not just nationally and statewide, but here on the South Plains as well. This is especially the case when the economy is struggling and jobs are limited. Unfortunately, some lash out at those most unable to defend themselves – the children.
Last year there were 70,589 confirmed cases of child abuse in Texas and, considering its population, a disproportionate percentage of those reports were from the South Plains, reported Enrique Rangel, A-J Austin Bureau chief.
The South Plains region holds the second-highest per capita rate of child abuse in the state. Lubbock led all Texas counties with 1,540 of the 70,589 child abuse cases statewide last year, according to the Texas Department of Family and Protective Services.
There are many complicated factors that lead to child abuse, according to the non-profit resource center, Helpguide.org. Risk factors for child abuse include:
n History of child abuse. Unfortunately, the patterns we learn in childhood are often what we use as parents. Without treatment and insight, sadly, the cycle of child abuse often continues.
n Stress and lack of support. Parenting can be a very time intensive, difficult job. Parents caring for children without support from family, friends or the community can be under a lot of stress. Teen parents often struggle with the maturity and patience needed to be a parent. Caring for a child with a disability, special needs or difficult behaviors is also a challenge. Caregivers who are under financial or relationship stress are at risk as well.
n Alcohol or drug abuse. Alcohol and drug abuse lead to serious lapses in judgment. They can interfere with impulse control making emotional and physical abuse more likely. Due to impairment caused by being intoxicated, alcohol and drug abuse frequently lead to child neglect
n Domestic violence. Witnessing domestic violence in the home, as well as the chaos and instability that is the result, is emotional abuse to a child. Frequently domestic violence will escalate to physical violence against the child as well.
The number of child abuse cases could be worse here without CPS and organizations like the one she leads, said Lynnette Wilson, executive director of the Family Guidance and Outreach Center. Her non-profit organization works with CPS to educate parents.
Holiday season is quickly approaching and is always an economic stressor. Even more so now in these challenging financial times. Those child abuse report numbers will climb and the smiling face of a child you see today may be one of horror tomorrow.
We must be vigilant and proactive for all children at all times. If you suspect a child is being mistreated, don’t ignore it. Report it. Child abuse isn’t just the abuser’s problem. It’s everyone’s problem.---------------------------------------------
By the time you finish reading this, 15 children will have been abused; In the next five minutes, 30 more; Within the next hour, 360 more; And by tonight, close to 8,000+ children will have suffered from abuse, 5 of which will die. Child abuse has increased 134% since 1980 and is now considered a worldwide epidemic. The high jump in child abuse deaths and the shocking increase in statistics highlights the frightening lack of public knowledge.
Educate Yourself -- Learn the Facts
It May Just Save a Child's Life!!