(This column appears in the Nevada Appeal weekly. It addresses topics related to the health of our community).
Each day, children around the world and right here in our community suffer from abuse. While some have visible, outward signs of their ordeal, such as bruises, scars, and burns, others bear their injuries secretly as they are belittled, neglected, and manipulated. At Carson City Health and Human Services, we believe no child should have to suffer from physical, sexual, or psychological abuse, and we are joining with the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services to observe National Child Abuse Prevention Month throughout the month of April.
It’s heartbreaking to learn a child may be a victim of abuse, but it’s important to know you don’t have to stand by silently and let the destructive behavior continue. While teachers, healthcare professionals, and social workers are mandatory reporters of child abuse, anyone can and should report suspected child abuse or neglect to the Division of Child and Family Services by calling 1-800-992-5757. Reporting is anonymous, so there’s no reason to be afraid to speak up in support of children who cannot speak for themselves.
If you’re unsure if what you are seeing constitutes abuse, it’s better to report than not. Physical abuse includes non-accidental injuries — sprains, dislocations, fractures, burns, lacerations and other wounds. Mental abuse, which may be harder to recognize, includes injury to the intellectual or psychological capacity or emotional condition of a child. Child neglect is also a form of abuse. Neglect is when children are not provided with proper care, including food, education, shelter, medical care or other care necessary for the child’s well-being. Sexual abuse or exploitation should also be reported as soon as you suspect it’s taking place in order to protect children from further harm.
The problems children develop due to child abuse and neglect have negative impacts that ripple across the lifespan, affecting children’s chances to succeed in school, work, and relationships. Taking action to stop potential child abuse could, in fact, save a child’s life. To learn more about how you can help prevent child abuse, visit www.childwelfare.gov. For more information about Health Department services, check out our website at www.gethealthycarsoncity.org or visit us on Facebook at Carson City Health and Human Services.