With an estimated 686,000 children nationwide who were abused or neglected in 2012, the Michigan State Police wants to raise awareness about the importance of preventing child maltreatment.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, child maltreatment is any act or series of acts of commission or omission by a parent or other caregiver that results in harm, potential for harm or threat of harm to a child.
"A child's life is too precious to be exposed to abuse and neglect," said Community Service Trooper Geno Basanese from the Iron Mountain Post.
"To help keep children safe, we must raise awareness and promote healthy behaviors and relationships among families, neighbors and the community," Trooper Basanese said.
There are four types of abuse - physical, sexual, emotional and neglect.
Child neglect is the most common form of child maltreatment; it is frequently defined as the failure to provide for a child's basic needs. Neglect can come in the form of physical, educational and emotional neglect.
Trooper Basanese said there are some commonly accepted physical and behavioral indicators of abuse and/or neglect:
Unattended medical needs.
Lack of supervision.
Reports that no caretaker is at home.
Withdrawn and/or aggressive-behavior extremes.
Complains of soreness or moves uncomfortably.
Withdrawal, chronic depression.
If you suspect abuse or neglect of a child, call (855) 444-3911. If the child is in immediate danger, call 911, Trooper Basanese said.
National experts say there is no specific test that can determine if a child is at risk for abuse or neglect.
However, when parents lose employment, worry about paying the rent or feeding their children, they often feel isolated and frustrated.
Without support, some parents reach the breaking point and lash out at their children.
It is essential for all of us to be mindful of the risks of child maltreatment within our immediate surroundings and community.
Area residents may know of families or friends who are experiencing high levels of stress. If you do, look for ways to help alleviate the tension, such as offering to watch their children for a few hours, or inviting them over for dinner or even visiting to give them support.
Experts also offer the following tips:
Help ease tension in a public place.
- If a parent is having difficulties with their child, strike up a conversation with the adult to divert attention away from the child.
- Try to get the child's attention by talking to him/her.
- Avoid negative remarks or looks. These can increase the parent's anger and make matters worse.
- Praise the child and parent at the first opportunity.
- If a child is left unattended, stand by the child until the parent returns or contact an employee.
- If you suspect abuse, call the local children's services agency.
- If the situation is violent or the child is in danger, call 911.
How to cool down in a moment of anger.
- Take a few deep breaths. Remember, you are the adult.
- Close your eyes and imagine what your child is about to hear.
- Press your lips together and count to 10.
- Put some space between you and your child.
- Turn on some music, and sing along.
- Drink a glass of cold water.
- Call a friend.
Remember, if you think a child is being abused, report it. Reporting abuse can help protect the child and get the family help.