As High-Profile Child Abuse Cases Take Center Stage, American Humane Association Urges All Adults to Help Protect Children

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Group offers six signs to identify child abuse

WASHINGTON, June 11, 2012 – The numbers are shocking enough: More than 700,000 U.S. children are abused or neglected each year. But today, as the nation focuses on yet another high-profile child abuse case getting underway in Pennsylvania, Americans are asking themselves another equally shocking question: Why didn’t anyone report these abuses?

The reasons why people don’t report child abuse are often complex, and often include a lack of information about the signs of abuse.  To help change that, American Humane Association, the nation’s voice for the protection of children and animals, today released a set of six tips to help all adults look for signs of potential child abuse.

While it is important to remember that these conditions are not proof of abuse, children who exhibit the following behaviors are candidates for further inquiry:

  1. Physical injuries. Children may have marks like bruises or burns, or sore places on their bodies. It’s especially important to pay attention when children are covering up when the weather is hot or if the explanation given by someone is inconsistent with the injury.
  2. Pet injuries. Family pets may be hurt intentionally or threatened when someone wants to keep others afraid and silent.
  3. Withdrawal or aggression. Children may turn their feelings inward or outward, emotionally withdrawing or becoming aggressive.
  4. Fear. Children may express fear of someone or something.
  5. Trouble Sleeping. Children may have trouble falling sleep, staying asleep or experience nightmares.
  6. Trouble Eating. Children may have trouble eating certain things or eating at all.

The Issue of Mandatory Reporting

American Humane Association notes that all states require some professionals who work with children such as doctors, nurses, teachers and child care workers to be “mandatory reporters.” This means that if any of these professionals are aware of child abuse, they are legally obligated to report it to authorities. In some states, every adult is considered a “mandatory reporter.” But regardless of where we live, all of us can play a role.  Information on child abuse and how to report it can be found at http://www.americanhumane.org/children/stop-child-abuse/fact-sheets/reporting-child-abuse-and-neglect.html .

“All adults must have a role in protecting our nation’s children from abuse,” said Dr. Robin Ganzert, president and CEO of American Humane Association. “Every case of child abuse is a tragedy, and even one is too many.”

ABOUT AMERICAN HUMANE ASSOCIATION

Since 1877 American Humane Association has been at the forefront of virtually every major advance in protecting children, pets and farm animals from cruelty, abuse and neglect. Today we’re also leading the way in understanding the human-animal bond and its role in therapy, medicine and society. American Humane Association reaches millions of people every day through groundbreaking research, education, training and services that span a wide network of organizations, agencies and businesses. Learn more at www.americanhumane.org.

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