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What You Can Do to Prevent Child Abuse

The National Child Abuse and Neglect Data System (NCANDS) estimates that more than 1,700 child fatalities occur each year. NCANDS defines child fatality as the death of a child caused by an injury resulting from abuse or neglect, or where abuse or neglect was a contributing factor.

Child abuse can happen in any family and in any neighborhood. Studies have shown that child abuse crosses all boundaries of income, race, ethnic heritage, and religious faith. The incidence is higher, however, in families in which the parents are in their mid-20s; high school dropouts or lack a high school diploma; below the poverty level or financially stressed; stressed because of a loss of job or home; or have a history of intergenerational abuse, alcohol or substance abuse problems, a history of depression, or spouse abuse.

Halting abuse

Prevent Child Abuse American (PCAA) offers these tips for stopping child abuse:

  • Try to understand your children. Learn how kids behave and what they can do at different ages. Have realistic expectations and be reasonable if children fall short.

  • Keep your children healthy. Denying children food, sleep, or health care is abuse by neglect.

  • Get help with alcohol or drug problems. Keep children away from anyone who abuses those substances.

  • Watch your words. Angry or punishing language can leave scars for a lifetime.

  • Get control of yourself before disciplining a child. Set clear rules so the child knows what to expect. Avoid physical punishment.

  • Take a time-out. Stop if you begin to act out frustration or other emotions physically. Find someone to talk with or watch your kids while you take a walk. Call a child abuse prevention hotline if you are worried you may hit your child.

  • Make your home a violence-free zone. Turn off violent TV shows and don't let kids stay under the same roof with an abusive adult.

  • Join a support program for new parents.

  • Take regular breaks from your children to give you a release from the stress of parenting full-time.

Remember that child abuse often repeats itself in the next generation. By doing what you can to prevent it today, you can help save children's lives far into the future.