In 2018, nearly 35,000 cases of child abuse were indicated in Illinois, according to the Children’s Advocacy Centers of Illinois.
April’s National Child Abuse Prevention Month recognizes the importance of communities working together to help identify and prevent child maltreatment. Evidence and years of research show that children raised in loving and supportive environments are more likely to prosper academically and financially.
Illinois recognizes five categories of child maltreatment, which include physical abuse, neglect, sexual abuse, sexual exploitation and emotional/mental injury.
HSHS St. Francis Hospital encourages you to learn the signs of child maltreatment, which in many cases is committed by someone the child knows and trusts.
DCFS Illinois says sometimes a parent’s demeanor or behavior sends a red flag about potential child abuse. Experts say a single warning sign of possible child maltreatment does not necessarily mean harm is occurring, but a closer look at the situation may be warranted when the signs appear repeatedly or in combination.
If a child reveals abuse, it’s important to listen carefully, let them know they’ve done the right thing by telling you, tell them it’s not their fault and explain what you’ll do next to keep them safe.
If you suspect child maltreatment, call 911, or a helpline such as the Childhelp National Child Abuse Hotline at 1-800-422-4453. or the Department of Children and Family Services (DCFS) hotline at 800-25-ABUSE (800-252-2873).
To learn more about the types and conditions of child maltreatment, visit the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services.