CASA of Philadelphia encourages #EyesOnKids during the COVID19 crisis

Now, under the restrictions caused by the COVID-19 crisis, everyone needs to be aware and attentive to possible child abuse.  Parents are now under more financial and emotional stress, which historically fuels a rise in cases of child abuse and neglect. At the same time, children are no longer in the public eye—they are not at schools or daycare, or in other locations where caring individuals may be able to spot signs of abuse and neglect. 

 

At CASA we are using this time, which corresponds with Child Abuse Prevention Month, to raise awareness of this issue and encourage others to get creative for the sake of vulnerable children 

We’re calling this the #EyesOnKidscampaign. Below are guidelines for members of the public to become the eyes on kids that are missing. 

 

RECOGNIZING ABUSE & NEGLECT 

The following list of indicators may be used as a guide to help determine if there is a suspicion of child abuse or neglect. These indicators can also exist in situations where a child is NOT abused or neglected; they are only suggestive of abuse or neglect. The presence of any one or more of these indicators may have an entirely appropriate or unrelated explanation. 

 

INDICATORS OF PHYSICAL ABUSE – CHILD 

  • Unexplained bruises, welts, human bite marks, bald spots 

  • Numerous bruises in various stages of healing 

  • Marks on many surfaces of the body 

  • Unexplained burns, especially cigarette or immersion burns 

  • Withdrawal or aggression – behavioral extremes 

  • Uncomfortable with physical contact 

  • Afraid to go home 

  • Dressed inappropriately for the weather 

  • Cringes when approached by an adult (fears getting hit) 

  • Overreacts to accidents such as spilling milk 

  • Does not want to talk about home life 

  • Extreme attachment to parents 

  • Extreme attentiveness to needs of parents 

  •  

INDICATORS OF PHYSICAL ABUSE – PARENT 

  • Contradictory statements about child's injury 

  • Excessive anxiety about child's behavior 

  • Labels child as a “problem” 

  • Says child makes up stories and that child should not be believed 

  • Verbally aggressive toward child 

  •  

INDICATORS OF SEXUAL ABUSE – CHILD 

  • Pain or itching in genital area 

  • Bruises or bleeding in external genitalia 

  • Frequent urinary or yeast infections 

  • Torn, stained or bloody underclothing 

  • Venereal disease 

  • A child's report or self-disclosure 

  • Sexual knowledge beyond what is natural for a child 

  • Preoccupation with their body 

  • Acting out sexual behavior 

  • Withdrawal, chronic depression 

  • Self-devaluation and lack of confidence 

  • Problems with bedtime or afraid to go to bed 

  • Bedwetting – especially if it begins in a child who has been dry 

  •  

INDICATORS OF SEXUAL ABUSE – PARENT 

  • Poor sexual relationship between parents 

  • Frequent changes of adults in household 

  • Lack of supervision of child 

  • Parent relates to child on adult level 

  • Parent is jealous of child's relationship with others 

  • Parent is overly possessive of child 

  •  

INDICATORS OF NEGLECT OR PSYCHOLOGICAL ABUSE – CHILD 

  • Unattended medical needs 

  • Consistent lack of supervision 

  • Persistent hunger, poor hygiene or inappropriate dress 

  • Distended stomach or emaciated body 

  • Delayed physical development 

  • Substance abuse 

  • Regularly displays fatigue or listlessness 

  • Steals food or begs 

  • Habit disorders (sucking, rocking, etc.) 

  • Passive or aggressive behavior extremes 

  • Neurotic traits such as sleep disorders or inhibition of play 

  •  

INDICATORS OF NEGLECT OR PSYCHOLOGICAL ABUSE – PARENT 

  • Disinterest in or rejection of child 

  • Deserting or avoiding child 

  • Threatening child, yelling, and/or screaming at child 

  • Ignoring medical problems of child 

  • Constant criticism of child, making negative comparison with other children 

  • Embarrassing children in public or making child feel ashamed or guilty 

  • Isolating child from society or normal friendships 

  • Placing child in dangerous situations 

  • Blaming child for situations not within child’s control 

  • Failing to meet child's physical/emotional needs 

  •  

INDICATORS OF CHILD SEX TRAFFICKING – CHILD 

  • History of emotional, sexual, or other physical abuse 

  • Signs of current physical abuse and/or sexually transmitted diseases 

  • History of running away or current status as a runaway 

  • Inexplicable appearance of expensive gifts, clothing, cell phones, tattoos, or other costly items 

  • Presence of an older boyfriend or girlfriend 

  • Drug addiction 

  • Withdrawal or lack of interest in previous activities 

  • Gang involvement 

  •  

INDICATORS OF CHILD LABOR TRAFFICKING – CHILD 

  • No freedom to leave or come and go as desired 

  • No or very little pay, or payment only through tips 

  • Excessive and/or unusual work hours 

  • No breaks at work 

  • A large debt that cannot be paid off 

  • Recruitment through false promises concerning the nature and conditions of the work 

  • High security measures in the work and/or living locations 

  • Lack of knowledge of whereabouts and/or lost sense of time 

 

REPORTING ABUSE - CHILDLINE 

ChildLine provides information, counseling, and referral services for families and children to ensure the safety and well-being of the children of Pennsylvania. The toll-free intake line, 1-800-932-0313, is available 24 hours/7 days a week to receive reports of suspected child abuse. 

Professionals who come into contact with children (i.e., mandated reporters) are required to report when they have reasonable cause to suspect that a child under the care, supervision, guidance or training of that person or of their agency, institution or organization is an abused child. However, any person may report suspected abuse. 

All mandated reporters must submit their name and contact information when making a report. Other members of the community who report can choose to remain anonymous. 

Each call is answered by a trained intake specialist who interviews the caller to determine the most appropriate course of action. Actions include forwarding a report to a county agency for investigation as child abuse or general protective services, forwarding a report directly to law enforcement officials, or referring the caller to local social services. 

 

CHILD ABUSE FACTS 

PA Department of Human Services 2018 Child Protective Services Report 

The child welfare system in Pennsylvania is state-supervised and county-administered with both agencies having vital roles in the protection of children. DHS is responsible for oversight and enforcement of laws, regulations, and policies that guide the provision of child welfare services at the county level by each of the 67 counties in Pennsylvania. DHS provides funding, oversight, and technical assistance to each county agency. Additionally, DHS is responsible for the licensure of public and private child welfare agencies and the investigation of complaints received regarding these agencies.  

The report includes both child protective services (CPS) and general protective services (GPS) reports. 

Additional Statistics and Information 

Child Maltreatment 2017- This report presents national data about child abuse and neglect known to child protective services agencies in the United States during federal fiscal year 2017. 

Child Welfare Outcomes 2010–2014: Report to Congress -This report to Congress provides information on the performance of states in seven outcome categories and also includes data on contextual factors and findings of analyses conducted across states. 

 

ADDITIONAL CHILD ABUSE RESOURCES 

To learn more about child abuse, visit these websites: 

  • Child Welfare Information Gateway - is a national resource for professionals seeking information on the prevention, identification, and treatment of child abuse and neglect, and related child welfare issues. 

  • Childhelp - a national organization dedicated to preventing and treating child abuse. They operate a crisis counseling line that is available 24/7 for parents who need help, and the national toll-free number for child abuse reporting (useful for reporting abuse that happens outside PA). 

  • American Psychological Association - website has information on child mental health, child abuse, bullying and other topics related to children. 

  • Juvenile Law Center (JLC) - is a nonprofit legal service focused on the protection of children's rights. They work on behalf of children who have come within the purview of public agencies - for example, abused or neglected children placed in foster homes, delinquent youth sent to residential treatment facilities or adult prisons, or children in placement with specialized services needs. JLC provides, free of charge, a range of useful legal information and guidance for professionals who come into contact with children. 

  • Child Welfare League of America - is an association of more than 1,100 public and private nonprofit agencies that assist more than 3.5 million abused and neglected children and their families each year with a wide range of services. 

  • Pennsylvania Chapter of the American Academy of Pediatrics - offers information on a variety of medical topics, including child abuse. 

  • ZERO TO THREE - ZERO TO THREE's aim is to strengthen and support families, practitioners and communities to promote the healthy development of babies and toddlers. Website provides information on research into early childhood development, professional development and public policy initiatives. 

  • The Annie E. Casey Foundation - is a private charitable organization dedicated to helping build a better future for disadvantaged children in the U.S. Site includes data from Kids Count, a project that tracks the status of children in the U.S. 

  • Child Trends - is a nonprofit, research organization that studies children, youth, and families through research, data collection, and data analysis. 

  • National Center on Substance Abuse and Child Welfare - part of SAMSHA (U.S. government), provides up-to-date information to child welfare, dependency court and substance abuse treatment professionals. Online training is available on the site, as well as links to presentations for professionals. 

 

 

*Reprinted from PA Family Support Alliance https://www.pa-fsa.org/