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Protect Georgia’s Youth this Child Abuse Prevention Month

April 5, 2018
child abuse prevention pinwheel

Every April, we advocate for our children’s safety. They are Georgia’s most valuable asset, and also its most vulnerable. It’s our responsibility, as a community, to help our children grow up in safe environments and reach their potential.

To report an emergency, call 911.

What is Child Maltreatment?

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention provides the following definitions:

  • Child abuse: Words or overt actions that cause harm, potential harm, or threat of harm
  • Child neglect: Failure to provide needs or to protect from harm or potential harm

Preventing Abuse

Prevention comes first. Though emergency reporting and response are vital in times of crisis, it’s best to stop abuse before it happens.

Effective prevention both reduces risk factors and promotes positive factors for healthy children and families. Parents create a safe environment when they have resources, support, and coping strategies to care for their child, even in times of stress.

Support Your Community

One person or family cannot end child abuse alone. Prevention is a community-wide effort.

Together, we must support our families and raise our children in a positive society.

To learn about national programs working to prevent and respond to child maltreatment, watch the Children's Bureau’s video series: Building Community, Building Hope. For a quick introduction, watch the trailer:

If you need assistance with a specific situation or want to learn how you can help, talk to a trained professional at 800-CHILDREN (800-244-5373). The helpline is open and toll-free weekdays, 8 a.m.-7 p.m. The helpline is not for reporting abuse.


Protect Your Child

If you are a parent, make sure to care for your child in the best way possible. Know who’s supervising your child at all times. Teach your kids how to stay safe online. And if you are experiencing stress or frustration, reach out to family, friends, and parent support groups in your community.


Detecting Abuse

Child abuse isn’t always obvious.

Research shows that certain conditions — or risk factors — relate with higher rates of child abuse. By recognizing these factors, we are in no way blaming the children for their abuse or excusing the abuser for their actions. Rather, we learn when it’s especially appropriate to look for further signs of maltreatment. Risk factors include:

  • Child is under 4 years old
  • Child has special needs (disability, chronic illness, etc.)
  • Parent was abused as a child
  • Parent is young
  • Parent cares for large number of children
  • Caregiver is nonbiological

If you think a child may be at risk, watch for these warning signs from the child:

  • Unexplained injuries
  • Untreated medical issues
  • Abrupt change in behavior or school performance
  • Loss of confidence
  • Sexual behavior or knowledge inappropriate for the child's age

You’ll also want to watch the parent or caregiver, to see if they:

  • Show little concern for the child
  • Deny that problems exist at home or school
  • Consistently blame, belittle, or berate the child
  • Expect attention and care from the child
  • Use harsh physical discipline
  • Severely limit the child's contact with others

Remember, the presence of these signs doesn’t necessarily mean a child is being abused. Use your best judgment and report abuse if you think the child’s safety or wellbeing is at stake.

Reporting Child Abuse

To report an emergency needing immediate attention, call 911.

Otherwise, call Child Protective Services at 855-422-4453 to report child abuse or neglect. The line is always open, and your report is confidential.

When you talk with Child Protective Services, expect to answer questions such as:

  • What are your specific concerns?
  • How do you know about the maltreatment?
  • Did anyone call the police?
  • How does the child interact with peers?
  • Has the child expressed concerns about going home?
  • How do the parents or caregivers discipline the child?
  • How do the parents function personally?

Staff will investigate your report and take appropriate steps to protect the child and strengthen the family.

Let’s Protect Georgia’s Children

Please help us raise awareness about preventing child maltreatment this month.

One of the simplest ways to get the word out and start a conversation is by sharing child abuse prevention materials on social media. You can find outreach materials — such as prepared Facebook posts and Tweets — on the National Child Abuse Prevention Month website.

As stated in the official proclamation (PDF):

“Children have a right to be safe and a right to … thrive, learn, and grow in an environment that fosters healthy development …”

Georgia, let’s show that we care about our children.

Additional Resources

National Child Abuse Prevention Month | federal website

Preventing Child Abuse & Neglect | Child Welfare Information Gateway

Child Abuse and Neglect Prevention | Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

Prevent Child Abuse Georgia | a state chapter of Prevent Child Abuse America

Rachel Hart

About the Author

Rachel Hart is the User Experience Designer for Digital Services Georgia. On Georgia.gov, she makes government material approachable with writing, infographics, videos, and other imagery.

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