According to the most recent data from the Children’s Advocacy Centers of Illinois, nearly 35,000 cases of child abuse were indicated in Illinois in a one-year period.
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.
“Working in the emergency department, it can be extremely upsetting to see a case of child abuse surface in our hospital,” said HSHS St. Mary’s Hospital Director of Emergency and Critical Care Services, Tara Peasley. “How we handle these situations may impact the victim for the rest of their life, so it’s important for us to remember to take each one seriously.”
Illinois recognizes five categories of child maltreatment, which include physical abuse, neglect, sexual abuse, sexual exploitation and emotional/mental injury.
HSHS hospitals encourage you to learn the signs of child maltreatment, which in many cases is committed by someone the child knows and trusts.
DCF 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 Childhelp National Child Abuse Hotline at 1-800-422-4453.
To learn more about the types and conditions of child maltreatment visit Illinois Department of Children and Families. Additional information about preventing child abuse can be found at preventchildabuseillinois.org.