Physicians and Other Professionals Can Sock it to Child Abuse

Child abuse is not only a horrid breach of faith between children and their caregivers, leaving physical and emotional scars that are sometimes permanent, but it also touches every taxpayer, abused or not, where it hurts.The annual cost of child abuse is quite significant.Direct costs of child maltreatment, include foster care, judicial expenses, law enforcement, and health system responses . Indirect costs, such as long-term economic effects from the damage that abuse inflicts, are arguably greater.
Providing foster care is also substantial.

“Most people don’t think of the costs associated with child abuse,” says Senator Carlos Uresti, District 19. “We focus on the horror of child abuse, and not on financial implications. But the reality is that child abuse is a drain on our society, both emotionally and financially. A child who is the victim of abuse today will carry that experience with him or her for life, and that impacts a great many things during the course of one’s life.”

The good news in this bleak scenario is that there are organizations and movements available to help prevent and educate about child abuse.

For professionals, including physicians, school nurses, teachers, counselors, psychologists, psychiatrists, pediatric dentists, fire investigators, and members of the faith community, the Childhelp National Child Abuse Hotline, while not a reporting agency, is dedicated to preventing child abuse and is staffed 24 hours each day with professional crisis counselors with a database of thousands of resources in order to inform each caller.

For more information on the Childhelp National Child Abuse Hotline,( call 1-800-4-A-CHILD (1-800-422-4453) and push “1” to talk to a hotline counselor or “2” for literature to be mailed.

Signs of Child Abuse

The following are a few of the behavioral and physical signs of child abuse and neglect, in order to remind physicians, school professionals, and others who work with children what to look for, even if abuse is not initially suspected. Vigilance is the key. Even those who work with children on a regular basis can sometimes miss these signs.

Please remember that the listed signs of child abuse in each category may involve more than one type of abuse or neglect. For example, “lack of concentration” could be a sign of sexual abuse as well as emotional abuse.

Physical Signs of Child Abuse

• Unexplained burns, cuts, bruises, or welts in the shape of an object
• Bite marks
• Anti-social behavior
• Problems in school
• Fear of adults

Emotional Signs of Child Abuse

• Apathy
• Depression
• Hostility or stress
• Lack of concentration
• Eating disorders

Sexual Signs of Child Abuse
• Inappropriate interest in or knowledge of sexual acts
• Nightmares and bed-wetting
• Drastic changes in appetite
• Over-compliance or excessive aggression
• Fear of a particular person or family member

Signs of Neglect
• Unsuitable clothing for weather
• Appearing dirty or unbathed
• Extreme hunger
• Apparent lack of supervision