CALL 713.222.TIPS (8477)

Every child deserves to feel safe and protected, period.

My name is Kerry McCracken. I am the Executive Director of The Children’s Assessment Center, Harris County’s Advocacy Center for sexually abused children. I am so grateful that April has been designated as National Child Abuse Prevention Month to bring even more emphasis to this sad but important issue.

Every child deserves to feel safe and protected, period.

175 children are abused in Texas every day. 700,000 children are abused in the United States every year. These numbers are shocking and unacceptable.

Child abuse comes in many forms. Physical abuse, sexual abuse, neglect, emotional abuse, and malnutrition are all abuse. No form of abuse is acceptable and all forms of abuse are preventable. That’s where you come in. It is every adult in our community’s job to protect children and prevent abuse. So how do we do that?

Report any suspicion of child abuse. It’s the right thing to do. Many people are afraid of reporting suspicions of abuse but when weighing the pros and cons it is an easy choice:

(1) Report child abuse so that a trained professional can investigate the allegation and either determine that no abuse occurred or determine that abuse has occurred and remove the child from danger; or
(2) Don’t report child abuse and run the risk that a child will continue to be abused, that additional children will be abused, or worse yet, that the child will suffer serious harm or death.

Educate yourself. Learn to recognize the signs and symptoms of child abuse. Common behavioral signs include depression, anxiety, anger, loss of appetite, withdrawal from normal activities, substance abuse, self-mutilation, fear of certain places or bed-wetting, night sweats, nightmares, and thoughts of suicide. Sexual acting out and language that is not age-appropriate are also signs of sexual abuse. Learn more about recognizing the 10 Signs of Child Abuse and Tips for Protecting Your Children.

Talk to your children. In the digital age, talking to your children is more important than ever. Don’t wait until your kids are teenagers. Start young and talk often. It’s an ongoing conversation and an important conversation. Let them feel safe talking to you. Teach them about boundaries. Ask who their friends are and make sure they are age-appropriate. Here are some age-appropriate books to start the conversation about body autonomy and how to keep their bodies safe.

Monitor your children’s online activity. Predators use the internet to find victims and due to the pandemic, kids spend more time online than ever. Pay attention. Know who your kids are talking to online and know what sites they visit. You can learn more about how to protect your children by using blocking and filtering software.

The point of Child Abuse Prevention Month is to bring awareness, not fear. Knowledge is power and we owe it to the children of our community to arm ourselves with the tools to be their protectors and their voice. Please join me, not only in April but year-round.

Report Suspected Abuse
Call 1(800)252-5400 or 9-1-1

Posted by on 26 Apr 2021