CASA: Help prevent child abuse and neglect
Adults in our community share a responsibility to protect against and report child abuse and neglect. The number of substantiated victims of child abuse and neglect in Moffat County increased from 49 in 2013 to 60 in 2014. We need to work together to continue to lower this number.
Parents, help protect your children by following these suggestions: Listen to your children and let them know it is safe to talk about anything. Get to know your neighbors, child’s friends and their families. Teach your children the difference between “good touches” and “bad touches.”
Screen babysitters and day care centers and assess their knowledge and training in child health, development, and care. Take a break if you feel overwhelmed. Get help if you have ever been a victim of abuse. Find local resources at https://211colorado.communityos.org/cms/node/142.
Recognize the signs of abuse and neglect. Warning signs of physical or sexual abuse include:
• Behavior changes such as fear, anxiety, depression, aggression, or withdrawal; not wanting to go home; or appearing afraid of certain individuals
• Overly sexualized behavior or use of explicit sexual language inappropriate for the child’s age
• Changes in sleeping patterns including frequent nightmares or difficulty falling asleep, which may result in the child appearing tired or fatigued
• Changes in school performance and attendance — frequent absences or being unable to concentrate in class
• Eating habits that lead to extreme weight gain or loss
• Visible unexplained injuries such as burns, bruises, or broken bones
• Use of drugs or alcohol
• Trouble walking or sitting
Warning signs of neglect include:
• Clothes that are ill-fitting, filthy or inappropriate for the weather
• Consistently bad hygiene (unbathed, matted and unwashed hair, noticeable body odor)
• Untreated illnesses and physical injuries
• Frequently unsupervised, left alone, or allowed to play in unsafe situations and environments
• Frequently late or missing from school
Advocate for children. If a child reports that he/she has been harmed or hurt, keep calm, reassure the child that you believe him/her. Support groups that help parents at risk of abusing their children. Offer to help new parents. Many new parents do not have the support of extended family.
Children or teens who are being abused: do not keep it secret. You are not at fault. Please tell a trusted adult immediately.
Speak up quickly if you suspect abuse or neglect — a child’s life may depend on it. Report child abuse and neglect anonymously at 1-844-CO-4-KIDS (1-844-264-5437), or call the Moffat County Department of Social Services between 9a.m. to 5 p.m. at 970-824-8282 ext. 2042, or 5 p.m. to 9 a.m. at 970-824-8111. If a child has been hurt or is in imminent danger, call 911.
Visit http://www.rockymountaincasa.org to learn more about Northwest Rocky Mountain CASA or to volunteer to advocate for the best interests of child victims of abuse and neglect.
Sources: “Child Abuse and Neglect-Topic Overview.” Webmd.com June 17, 2015, Helpguide.org, safehorizon.org, Colorado Department of Human Services.
Sue Fegelein is the executive director of Northwest Rocky Mountain CASA.
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