According to the Administration for Children and Families, 12,180 children died from abuse and neglect between 2001 and 2008. However the actual number of child deaths is significantly higher, as many child maltreatment deaths are not recorded as such. Additionally a number of studies have shown that there is a substantial amount of child abuse and neglect related fatalities, which are not recorded. Furthermore, child welfare experts predict that with the economic downturn continuing, that child abuse will likely increase.
The fight against child abuse first gained ground in 1974 the first Federal child protection legislation, the Child Abuse Prevention and Treatment Act (CAPTA), was passed in the United States. Over the years the Act has been amended numerous times, most recently by the Keeping Children and Families Safe Act of 2003. However it was not until the early 1980s that Congress made a commitment to identify and implement solutions to fight child abuse, thus seeing the astonishing rate at which children were abused and neglected, they sought to create preventative programs and assist parents and families affected by maltreatment. Following which Congress then designated the week of June 6-12, 1982, as the first National Child Abuse Prevention Week. The following year, April was proclaimed the first National Child Abuse Prevention Month. Since then, child abuse and neglect awareness activities have been promoted across the country during April of each year. The Office on Child Abuse and Neglect (OCAN) within the Children’s Bureau coordinates Child Abuse Prevention Month, providing information and releasing updated national statistics about child abuse and neglect each April. Many of these materials, such as the annual Resource Guide, have been made available.
Unfortunately, despite the best efforts of the many who have worked countless hours addressing child maltreatment, the U.S. continues to fall short of protecting its youngest citizens. Knowing the warning signs of abuse are key for every adult in keeping our children safe from harm, awareness is the first step in prevention. Please see my previous article, Knowing the signs of abuse to protect our children, to learn more on how you can protect and prevent children from abuse. And while we need to increase our awareness and prevention programs, we must also strengthen our laws to ensure that all children are given a fighting chance.
For more information please see my previous articles on child abuse and resources Links for Abused Children and Parents, Books for Children and Parents of Victims of Abuse, and Crisis Hotlines