By Cpl. Angelucci.
Campaign: Improve Safety by Being Informed
Child Safety is everyone's responsibility and something the Norristown Police takes seriously. Sometimes it is difficult to understand when child abuse is happening because some cultures differ from others in what child abuse means. The purpose of this article is to provide a better understanding of what child abuse means in the United States and the importance of breaking the silence when needed.
The subjects of understanding child abuse, the responsibility of reporting abuse, and different types of abuses will be explored. Finally, we will be concentrating this article on bullying, its impact, and the steps that can be taken if you are bullied or know of someone that is being bullied.
UNDERSTANDING CHILD ABUSE
Child abuse is a broad term which encompasses numerous forms of neglect and mistreatment. It occurs when a parent or caregiver, whether through direct action or failing to act, causes injury, death, emotional harm or risk of serious harm to a child. Child abuse includes neglect, physical abuse, sexual abuse, exploitation, and emotional abuse.
It's hard to imagine someone intentionally hurting a child, but the statistics show that nearly one million children are abused every year in the United States. Many more cases are unreported and undetected, often because children are afraid to tell somebody who can help. Most of the time, kids know their abusers and the abuse occurs in the home; this makes it difficult for kids to speak up. They may feel trapped by the affection they feel for their abusers or fearful of the power the abusers have over them.
While not all suspicions and accusations of child abuse turn out to be true, all deserve serious attention and immediate action. Child abuse can rob kids of the joy of growing up and affect them negatively for years to come. But abuse doesn't have to ruin a child's life, as long as it's stopped and dealt with. The earlier abuse can be identified and stopped, the less destructive it will be. Healing from the abuse and dealing with its aftermath needs to start as early as possible.
All children deserve to be heard, protected, and helped, no matter what.
THE RESPONSIBILITY OF REPORTING ABUSE
ChildLine is part of a mandated statewide child protective services program designed to accept child abuse referrals and general child well-being concerns and transmit the information quickly to the appropriate investigating agency.
ChildLine is responsible for receiving verbal and electronic referrals 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Child abuse investigation outcomes and general protective services assessment outcomes are submitted to, reviewed, and finalized by ChildLine specialists.
It is important for all to know that cultural sensitivity and courteous demeanor are always displayed to all callers.
If you have language barriers or needs other supports, ChildLine will provide them. To report suspected child abuse or general child well-being concerns call ChildLine at 1-800-932- 0313
IDENTIFYING OTHER TYPES OF ABUSE: BULLYING
Statistics show that bullying is a problem affecting the education system in the United States. In simple words, bullying can be defined as when someone is picked on by a person or a group. Bullies tend to make fun of people who they think don't fit in certain groups, and criticize aspects such as appearance (how someone looks); behavior (how someone acts); race or religion; social status (whether someone is popular); and sexual identity (like being gay, lesbian, or transgender).
Much like abuse, bullying comes in different forms: physical, verbal, psychological, and cyberbullying. Physical bullying is when bullies hurt their targets physically; this might be shoving, tripping, punching, or hitting. Any form of touching that a person does not want can be bullying and possible sexual assault. Verbal bullying is taunting or teasing someone. Psychological bullying is gossiping about or excluding people to make them feel bad about themselves. And, Cyberbullying is when bullies use the internet and social media and say things that they might not say in person. Cyberbullying can include sending mean texts, posting insults about someone on Twitter, or making rude comments on their Instagram pictures. Bullies might post personal information, pictures, or videos designed to hurt or embarrass someone else.
Bullying can have a long term impact on a person’s life. Some of the consequences encompass emotional changes such as feeling afraid, stressed, depressed, or anxious. A bullied kid will present changes with their mood, energy level, sleep, and appetite. Having thoughts about suicide or hurting themselves is also a common effect. Another identifier is that bullied children have trouble with their schoolwork and don’t want to attend school.
ARE YOU BEING BULLIED? STEPS TO FOLLOW IF YOU ARE BULLIED
There are many things that you can do if you're being bullied or know someone who is:
- Talk to the Police or School Resource Officer. Police are your friends and are there to help.
- Tell a trusted adult. Such as parents, teachers, or coaches who often can deal with bullying without the bully ever learning how they found out about it.
- Don't get physical. You're more likely to be hurt and get into trouble if you try to fight a bully.
- Practice confidence. Practice ways to respond to the bully verbally or through your behavior. Talk about it; It may help to talk to a guidance counselor, teacher, or friend — anyone who can give you the support you need. Talking can be a good outlet for the fears and frustrations that can build when you're being bullied.
- Just walk away. Bullies like getting a reaction. Walk tall and hold your head high. Using this type of body language sends a message that you're not vulnerable.
- Find your (true) friends. If you've been bullied with rumors or gossip, tell your friends so that they can help you feel safe and secure. Avoid being alone, especially when the bullying is happening a lot.
- Stand up for friends and others you see being bullied. Your actions help the victim feel supported and may stop the bullying.
- Join your school's bullying or violence prevention programs. Peer mediation is another way you may be able to work things out with a bully. If your school doesn't have these programs, start one of your own.
Share with us your thoughts about these topics and if you have been a witness or a victim let us know how we can help you.
For anonymous complaints call our anonymous line 610-278-8477
Cpl. James Angelucci.