Child Abuse: Responding Effectively
by Sue Hardie, RN, PhD
A growing network of dedicated professionals from multiple disciplines around the country strive to prevent child abuse before it occurs, identify abuse and neglect as
soon as possible and intervene effectively and compassionately. This was evident from the large numbers attending the 29th Annual International Conference on Child and
Family Maltreatment held recently in San Diego.
Every year 3.4 million reports of child abuse are made in the United States involving nearly 6.3 million children – one report can include multiple children. Child abuse occurs
at every socioeconomic level, across ethnic and cultural lines, within all religions and at all levels of education. The four major types of child abuse include physical abuse,
neglect, sexual abuse and emotional abuse.
Sadly, without intervention abuse can result in a child’s death. The national rate of child fatalities is more than 2 deaths per 100,000 children. Nearly three-quarters of all child
fatalities were younger than 3 years old. Four-fifths (80%) of child fatalities were caused by one or both parents.
In California, the California Professional Society on the Abuse of Children (CAPSAC) is committed to improving standards for the prevention, identification, intervention and
treatment of child abuse and neglect. It is the largest state chapter of the American Professional Society on the Abuse of Children. At the San Diego conference CAPSAC
awarded scholarships to three graduate students from UC Davis, UC Riverside and California State University Fullerton for their outstanding research and contribution to helping children.
In communities around the country, there is a network of almost 800 Child Advocacy Centers where children and families can receive expert medical and mental health care, support and advocacy in a single, child-centered location. The National Children’s Alliance (NCA) is the national association and accrediting body for Children’s Advocacy Centers.
If you suspect a child is being abused or neglected, you can make a positive difference in the child’s and family’s life by calling Child Protective Services. A multidisciplinary
team of professionals will help the child and family get the resources and treatment they need. With early intervention and supportive care, we know that children and families
can heal and abuse can be stopped.To report suspected child abuse in Los Angeles County call (800) 540 – 4000; in Ventura County call (805) 654 – 3200 To learn of the Child Advocacy Center near you go to: www.nationalchildrensalliance.org/ To learn more about APSAC/CAPSAC, contact: www.apsac.org