By Holly Gainer
Approximately 676,000 children were victims of child abuse or neglect in 2016, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. However, the CDC says this number likely underestimates the true occurrence. Prevention and reporting cases of abuse are the best ways to reduce child abuse and neglect and improve the lives of children in the United States.
As part of National Child Abuse Prevention Month and Sexual Assault Awareness Month, Professor Patricia M. Speck, DNSc, CRNP, FNP-BC, DF-IAFN, FAAFS, FAAN, a board-certified family nurse practitioner who specializes in forensic nursing and sexual violence, explains how to prevent, spot signs of and report child abuse.
Know the signs
Different types of abuse come with different warning signs. Children who have experienced emotional abuse are typically excessively withdrawn, fearful or anxious about doing something wrong. They also may show extremes in behavior by acting either extremely compliant or demanding, or passive or aggressive.
For physical abuse and sexual abuse, the signs may be more visible to the eye. Children may have frequent injuries or unexplained bruises, appear to always be watchful or on alert, flinch at sudden movements, or seem afraid to go home or be around someone they fear.