Understanding Child Abuse & Neglect. Prepared by: The University of Arizona Cooperative Extension 4-H Youth Development Lisa Lauxman and Bob Peterson Design & Layout: Teresa M. Noon. The University of Arizona Extension Youth Protection Policy Key Points.
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The University of Arizona Cooperative Extension 4-H Youth Development
Lisa Lauxman and Bob Peterson
Design & Layout: Teresa M. Noon
The long-term affects of child abuse or neglect can be devastating. They can include substance abuse, psychological problems, and suicide. Reporting suspected abuse or neglect can help to stop the destructive process and start the healing process.
Any mandatory reporter who suspects that a child is suffering from any type of abuse or neglect, is legally required to report that suspicion to appropriate authorities.
Research shows that there are a number of symptoms exhibited by children that may indicate abuse or neglect.
*The presence of a single indicator does not automatically mean that abuse or neglect has occurred. However, it does warrant your attention.
Is rarely a single physical attack, but rather a pattern of abuse that repeats over time.
Occurs when a parent or other person willfully or maliciously injures or causes a child to be injured, tortured or maimed, or when unreasonable force is used upon a child.
Abuse and neglect can be physical, emotional and sexual.
Abused and neglected children are found in families at all...
People are more likely to behave in ways that can hurt children or lead to child abuse and neglect when they neglect to take good care of themselves.
A lack of social support to help parents do a good job of parenting
Conflict and/or violence between spouses
A child (or children) who has special needs, is hard to comfort of challenging to rear
Abuse alcohol or other substances
Are highly vulnerable to the stress of caring for children
Have low self-esteem and feel isolated
Use more physical punishment than positive guidanceRisk factors leading to abuse:
is any non-accidental injury to a child under the age of 18 by a parent or caretaker.
beatings, shaking, burns, human bites, strangulation or immersion in scalding water, with resulting bruises and welts, broken bones, scars or internal injuries
Unexplained bruises and welts
Other unexplained injuries may include lacerations, abrasions, human bite marks or pinch marks, loss of hair or bald patches, retinal hemorrhage, or abdominal injuriesPhysical abuse
Emotional neglect is the consistent failure of a parent or caretaker to provide a child with appropriate support, attention and affection.
Emotional abuse is the chronic pattern of behaviors, such as belittling, humiliating and ridiculing a child.What is Emotional Abuse?Two Levels
Sleep disturbances, nightmares
Speech disorders, stuttering
Failure to thrive
Asthma, severe allergies or ulcers
Habit disorders, such as biting, rocking, head-banging, thumb-sucking in an older child
Poor peer relationships
Behavioral extremes, overly compliant or demanding, withdrawn or aggressive
Self-destructive behavior, remaining oblivious to hazards and risks
Chronic academic underachievementEmotional AbusePhysical & Behavioral Indicators:
Neglect is the chronic failure of a parent or caretaker to provide a child under 18 with adequate food, clothing, medical care, protection and supervision.
Inappropriate clothing for weather
Child abandoned or left with inadequate supervision
Untreated illness or injury
Lack of safe, sanitary shelter
Lack of necessary medical and dental care
Begging or stealing food
Falling asleep in school, lethargic
Poor school attendance, frequent tardiness
Dull, apathetic appearance
Running away from home
Repeated acts of vandalism
Reports no caretakers in the home
Assumes adult responsibilitiesChild NeglectPhysical & Behavioral Indicators:
Follow this process to avoid further abuse to the child and to legally protect yourself:
Do not investigate; it may jeopardize the child’s safety as well as any legal action pending as a result of the abuse (Nelson and Clark, 1986).
Try to keep emotion out of it and give factual information about what you have observed or heard
Remember your goal is to help the child to be safe as well as be safe yourself.
Think clearly and objectively about making a report
It is essential that concerns about child abuse or neglect be treated with strict confidentiality.
You may need to discuss your concerns with another person however, this can and should be done without using the family or individual names. Also, hold the conversation where other will not be able to hear your discussion.More on How To Report
Work cooperatively with youth, families, other volunteers, Cooperative Extension faculty and staff and others in a courteous, respectful manner demonstrating behaviors appropriate to a positive role model for youth. Any type of harassment or hazing cannot be tolerated. Keep the best interests of youth and families as a priority.
Represent the University of Arizona Cooperative Extension 4-H Youth Development program with pride and dignity. Obey the laws of the locality, state, and nation.
Comply with equal opportunity and anti-discrimination laws. Make all reasonable effort to assure that 4-H Youth Development programs are accessible to youth without regard to race, color, national origin, sex, religion, sexual orientation or disability.
Recognize that verbal and/or physical abuse and/or neglect of youth is unacceptable in 4-H Youth Development programs; refrain from physical or verbal abuse. Incidents of reported, suspected or observed abuse should be reported immediately to law enforcement or Child Protective Services.
Treat animals humanely and teach 4-H youth to provide appropriate animal care.
Operate motor vehicles (including machines or equipment) in a safe and reliable manner when working with 4-H youth, and only with a valid operator's license and the legally required insurance coverage
Abide by the same rules as the youth regarding no use of alcohol, tobacco products and drugs at a 4-H Youth Development function nor allow youth participants under supervision to do so.
Responsible adults automatically limit their physical exchanges with children, showing respect for children and at the same time maintaining warm, healthy affectionate relationships.
Be aware of children’s personal boundaries and respect them.
Adults should avoid being alone with one child.
In group situations, it is advisable to always have at least two adults present.
Never hit or strike a child—even in “play.”Creating Safety Zones: Protecting Yourself and Children
Help protect everyone—have the children use the buddy system--- they don’t go anywhere without their “buddy.”
Hugs are okay if they are appropriate and if both people are comfortable with them. Take clues from body language of the child and simply ask “Is it okay for me to hug you?”
Encourage parents to join in your activities and to drop in when they can.
There is nothing magical nor mysterious about interacting with children; the best thing to do is use common sense.More Safety Zones
In an after school program, a 10 year old girl, Daphne, has chosen all sad pictures for her contributions to a group picture. She tells you that she’s sad because her mom kicked her dad out of the house over the weekend and he won’t be living with her any more. She also tells you that dad gave her three $100 bills and he’ll give her more if she comes and sees him on the weekends. He tells her not to tell her mom. Daphne also tells you she has to baby sit her twin five year old sisters. Her mom works as a waitress from 1 PM till 1 PM. You can tell that the family has few resources based on the children’s clothing. Her sisters are also in the program and their behavior is that of 3 year olds not five year olds. You’ve not met Daphne’s parents, but can obtain info about them from the registration papers.
You work with school age children in a summer recreational/educational program. A new child, Nathan, joins the program. He is 8 years old and dresses in winter clothing despite being summer. He has a very strong body odor. His hair is not combed and is unkempt. He seems to be a happy child but doesn’t join in many activities. You notice him stuffing his pockets after the free breakfast. After 4 weeks of sporadic attendance, you don’t see him for 3 weeks. You’ve not met Nathan’s parents, but can obtain info about them ( address, ph#’s, etc) from his registration papers.
You are caring for a 2 year old, Nathan. He has round, crusty sores in between his fingers that you haven’t seen before. When you ask Nathan about them, he says “Hurt”. When you ask Nathan’s mother, she tells you that he caught his fingers in the door and they got
You work with pre-schoolers and President’s Day is a holiday when the center is closed. You post notes reminding parents two weeks before the holiday and have spoken with each of the parents to remind them. On the holiday, you stop by the center and find one of the 4 year old children, Sue, sitting by the door. It’s nearly noon and Sue tells you that she’s been there since morning and that Dad will pick her up before dinner time.
Need to check the facts in a discreet manner with a call to the mother. If true or not severely embellished, ask if she can find an alternative babysitting situation [No child is to be left alone unsupervised under age 12; that’s the law]. If mother can’t improve situation via church, after school program, neighbors, then let her know you will have to call CPS. DO NOT SAY ANYTHING ABOUT THE MONEY...let CPS do that!
Start with a call to the family to check if the child is O.K. Let them know that other children are asking about him. DO NOT CHALLENGE. You don’t have a relationship and there is not reason for him to come back. Then, call CPS and report — neglect seems evident. This has probably been reported before.
First, pinched fingers from doors don’t get round sores between the fingers. May be a burn from something. Child could be hurting self by rubbing fingers. Check with staff to see if any previous “sores” or injuries have been noted that appeared “questionable”. Call CPS. Child care workers must report suspicious injuries, neglect.
Call the police... that situation could be classified as abandonment as well as neglect. DO NOT TAKE HER HOME WITH YOU. You can call parents at work to let them know you have contacted the police.