A Blog from Your Kaiser Permanente Pediatricians in Northern California

National Child Abuse Prevention Month

As parents, we do everything possible to keep our kids safe – using car seats, keeping up with vaccinations, having them wear helmets, and more. April is National Child Abuse Prevention Month – a reminder to us all, doctors and parents alike, to focus our attention on keeping our kids safe from the dangers of abuse and neglect.

In 2016, the Child Protective Services (CPS) found that 700,000 children in the US were victims of child abuse and neglect. Many cases are never evaluated by CPS, so the true number is likely much higher. A recent report by the American Academy of Pediatrics estimates that 25 percent of all US children may have been mistreated at some point in their lives.

The World Health Organization defines child abuse as:

“All forms of physical and/or emotional ill-treatment, sexual abuse, neglect or negligent treatment or commercial or other exploitation, resulting in actual or potential harm to the child’s health, survival, development or dignity in the context of a relationship of responsibility, trust or power.”

Abuse of any form, including neglect, has lasting consequences for a child. Adverse childhood experiences (ACEs) – including exposure to or witnessed violence, physical, emotional, sexual abuse, harsh parenting, abandonment, emotional or physical neglect – affect the developing brain of a child in ways that increase their risk of negative health outcomes. ACEs make it more likely that the child will suffer from an altered immune system, asthma, be obese as a teen or adult, have physical and psychiatric health challenges, including heart disease, cancer, depression, eating disorders, suicidality, and substance abuse.

Given the health effects of ACEs, child mistreatment in all of its forms is worth our focus.

“We must all join in the work of uplifting and safeguarding our youngest individuals and ensuring they are limited by nothing but the size of their dreams and the range of their aspirations. This month, let us aim to eradicate child abuse from our society, and let us secure a future for our children that is bright and full of hope, opportunity, and security.” Presidential Proclamation — National Child Abuse Prevention Month, 2016

We all want to keep our kids safe this month and every month.

Find more resources for parents

The American Academy of Pediatrics:
Child Abuse and Neglect

ACEs – Adverse Childhood Experiences

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