Everyday in Pennsylvania child abuse and neglect occurs. The World Health Organization estimates that approximately 20 percent of women and 5 to 10 percent of men experience childhood sexual abuse and 25 to 50 percent of all children are physically abused. Abuse happens in four different ways: neglect, failure to provide for a child's basic needs; physical, a physical injury; sexual abuse; and emotional abuse, behavior that impairs a child's emotional development or sense of self worth.
Abuse affects children in the short term but in the long term as well. Children can have a 20-year reduction in life expectancy if they have been abused six or more times in a lifetime.
Child abuse and neglect can occur at any age, race and family income level. Studies have identified some reasons that contribute to abuse and neglect. These include young mothers and fathers, overwhelmed single parents with little support, and families under stress.
April is National Child Abuse Prevention Month. In an effort to raise awareness about child safety, Northumberland County Children and Youth Services plans to distribute pin wheels and posters to all the elementary schools in the county as a means to spread the word about the importance of protecting children.
Child Abuse Prevention Month is devoted to celebrating everything we can do to transform our community into a place that cares about and actively supports children and families. By ensuring that parents have the knowledge, skills and resources they need to care for their children, we can all help prevent child abuse and neglect.
As a parent, what can you do?
n Spend quality time with your children.
n Be a role model for respectful behavior.
n Seek out assistance when you need help.
As a community, what can we do?
n Reach out and help a parent who is struggling.
n Lend your time, skills, and resources to help n prevent child maltreatment.
n Wear a blue ribbon as a reminder that we are all responsible to keep children safe.
For more information about child abuse prevention information, contact the Northumberland County Office of Children and Youth Services at 322 North 2nd Street, Sunbury Pa. (570) 988-4237.
Melissa Eisenhour, Caseworker,
Northumberland County Children and Youth Services