blog challenge

G is for Guidelines for Reporting Abuse – A to Z on Child Abuse

You have the power to save lives.

You have the power to save lives.

Child abuse is an ugly subject. Even people who dedicate their lives to helping children want to block out the visions, sounds and memories that echo in the aftermath of meeting victims of abuse. So what are you to do when you suspect something might be happening but not knowing how you could help, feel powerless to help a child suffering under the monster that is child abuse?

Today you can arm yourself with the knowledge that you can protect a child, and help an entire family, by properly reporting the suspected or obvious mistreatment of a child. Anyone can report suspected child abuse or neglect. You could save a life.

Identifying Child Abuse

Child abuse is defined as any intentional, emotional, physical or sexual injury to a child. These abuses can take many, many forms. Laws and levels of intervention differ from state to state but here is a very generalize list of identifiers of child abuse.

PHYSICAL ABUSE

Bruises, such as those caused by hands, fists, electrical cords, clothes hangers, and belts | Internal organ injury which can be difficult to detect but may lead to internal bleeding |   Bone fractures, especially arms, legs, and skull   |   Burns from such things as cigarettes, lighters, and stove burners   |   Lacerations caused by knives, razor blades, or other sharp objects

SEXUAL ABUSE

Inappropriate sexual touching   |   Fondling   |   Rape   |   Prostitution   |   Pornography   |   Forcing a child to perform or help to perform any sexual behavior

EMOTIONAL ABUSE

Constant belittling, shaming and humiliation   |   Frequent yelling, threatening or bullying

NEGLECT

Physical neglect involves a spectrum of behavior ranging from refusing to provide basic nutrition or necessary health care for the child to total abandonment of the child   |   Emotional neglect has a wide spectrum of behavior starting with the absence of adequate adult affection toward the child and includes exposing the child to physical violence and/or arguing/fighting between parents   |   Educational neglect occurs when the child’s caretakers fail to provide the child with an adequate educational experience

 

Reporting Child Abuse

Childhelp® is a national organization that provides crisis assistance and other counseling and referral services. Not only for victims, Childhelp can connect those who want to report abuse to the correct resources.

The Childhelp National Child Abuse Hotline is staffed 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, with professional crisis counselors who have access to a database of 55,000 emergency, social service, and support resources. All calls are anonymous. Contact them at 1.800.4.A.CHILD (1.800.422.4453).

If you witness child abuse or neglect contact your local law enforcement agency so a professional can intervene immediately. If you suspect child abuse or neglect or have witnessed a situation you find concerning you can refer to this list of State Child Abuse Reporting Phone Numbers to get more localized assistance in finding your next step.

Note that in some states any person who suspects child abuse or neglect is required to report it. You can check your states standings on Mandatory Reporting of Child Abuse and Neglect online in the linked pdf.

B is for Bruises – A to Z on Child Abuse

Child Abuse PSA in Spain.

Child Abuse PSA in Spain.

A to Z on Child Abuse… B is for Bruises

Victims of abuse are rarely walking around with bruises for you to see.  The internal scars are forever for most.  So what might a victim of abuse show you that should raise questions?

Please read this very informative piece from the American Academy of Child & Adolescent Psychiatry

 

Child Abuse – The Hidden Bruises

The statistics on physical child abuse are alarming. It is estimated hundreds of thousands of children are physically abused each year by a parent or close relative. Thousands actually die as a result of the abuse. For those who survive, the emotional trauma remains long after the external bruises have healed. Communities and the courts recognize that these emotional “hidden bruises” can be treated. Early recognition and treatment is important to minimize the long term effect of physical abuse. Whenever a child says he or she has been abused, it must be taken seriously and immediately evaluated.

Children who have been abused may display:

  • a poor self image
  • sexual acting out
  • inability to trust or love others
  • aggressive, disruptive, and sometimes illegal behavior
  • anger and rage
  • self destructive or self abusive behavior, suicidal thoughts
  • passive, withdrawn or clingy behavior
  • fear of entering into new relationships or activities
  • anxiety and fears
  • school problems or failure
  • feelings of sadness or other symptoms of depression
  • flashbacks, nightmares
  • drug and alcohol abuse
  • sleep problems

Often the severe emotional damage to abused children does not surface until adolescence or even later, when many abused children become abusing parents. An adult who was abused as a child often has trouble establishing lasting and stable personal relationships. These men and women may have trouble with physical closeness, touching, intimacy, and trust as adults. They are also at higher risk for anxiety, depression, substance abuse, medical illness, and problems at school or work.

Early identification and treatment is important to minimize the long-term consequences of abuse. Qualified mental health professionals should conduct a comprehensive evaluation and provide treatment for children who have been abused. Through treatment, the abused child begins to regain a sense of self-confidence and trust. The family can also be helped to learn new ways of support and communicating with one another. Parents may also benefit from support, parent training and anger management.

Physical abuse is not the only kind of child abuse. Many children are also victims of neglect, or sexual abuse, or emotional abuse. In all kinds of child abuse, the child and the family can benefit from evaluation and treatment from a qualified mental health professional.

If you found this information helpful and would like to make good mental health a reality, consider donating to the Campaign for America’s Kids. Your support will help the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry continue to produce and distribute vital mental health information, free of charge.
You may also mail in your contribution. Please make checks payable to the AACAP and send to Campaign for America’s Kids, P.O. Box 96106, Washington, DC 20090.

 

REFERENCE TO LETTER A – ADVOCACY

American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry Advocacy Day is Fast Approaching—Please Make Sure to Sign Up Today!

Advocacy DayRegistration is open for AACAP’s annual Advocacy Day. Join us May 8th and 9th in Washington, D.C!

 

Day 7 – What did you learn today? Who did you love? What made you laugh?

A three-part question, huh? I’m trying to not re-read the 35 questions since I embarked on this challenge but if the 35 questions is actually more like 100 questions I might have to block more time for this every middle of the night.

What did I learn today?

I learned that it is time for me to take a break. It happens periodically. Maybe twice a year where I just have used up all my patience and compassion and just want to tell everybody they can go jump off a cliff. And I mean everyone. The guy who knocked the chips off the shelf at the grocery store and looked down at them and kept walking. My teenager who called his teacher a “snitch” in class today when some other kid got sent to the principal’s office (really??). All one year olds who have learned this high-pitched scream that I imagine must be what a dog whistle sounds like to dogs. Just every one… off a cliff. Metaphorically.

This isn’t good for anybody! Ever heard the saying “If momma’s not happy, nobody’s happy”? In my house everyone knows this to be true. Momma is usually happy but I haven’t been taking care of myself. Too many projects, too many late nights, no breaks. Obviously if I go on 5 hours of sleep EVERY night for months eventually something is going to give. So its time to give myself a massage appointment. Right on to the To Do list. Number 43 – make and keep massage appointment.

Who did I love?

Despite my lowered mental capacity today, boy oh boy did I love up on the babies (3 ¾ year old daughter and 16 month old son in the smallest bearable measurement of age for non-parents). They are with me all day every day and though they drive me utterly insane they are also incredibly beautiful and funny and all the best and worst parts of me in these little huggable packages. Plus my grandma is here visiting and she is a super sassy 77 year old version of me so she’s been getting love all day too. In between all the messes and screaming and cleaning and cooking (the kids, not the grandma) it’s been a love fest in here today. Not too different from any other day.

What made me laugh?

Oh my goodness… if you could sit in my living room and listen to my grandmother’s stories you’d cry laughing. She’s so funny. Such a spitfire. And she’s hit that age where she can do or say just about anything she wants and you just have to take it so with no limit she is really too much to handle in the best way possible. I can’t wait until I get that age.

My cousin is getting married this weekend and handsome man that he is all tall, dark and athletic with the light eyes the ladies love. Well he has found him a, by all other accounts, plain, average looking wife but my grandmother just will not stop about how she looks like a big o’ strong man. In describing her she pointed to my 6ft 4in ex-linebacker husband and said she had shoulders like him and could move this couch all by herself if she wanted to. It’s like having my own comedy show every night she is here. It really is just such a blessing to have a day that is Great Grandma, Grandma, Mom and Daughter all together so I’m enjoying this immensely.

Day 6 – If You Acheived All of Your Life’s Goals How Would You Feel?

This is actually a two part question.

If I achieved all of my life goals how would I feel?

How can I feel that along the way?

I am a little discombobulated at the moment.  My immediate response to the first question was a tiny gasp of something akin to horror.  My brain seized up and got stuck replaying the phrase “What the hell would I do then?”

It’s hard to explain this odd reaction to basically all your dreams come true by achieving your life long goals.  Imagine your life was dedicated to achieving your goals and you achieved all your goals. Does that mean that now it was time to retire? Forced to think about it I felt how someone must feel when they’ve worked for GE for 50 years and they are forced to retire.

Have you seen the movie “Friday Night Lights”?  Reading the question I felt like the running back in the movie “Friday Night Lights” when he had to clean out his locker after he was told he couldn’t play football anymore.  All tears and snot bubbles, wailing “What I gonna do now?!?”

Start the clip at 2:00 minutes to see exactly what I’m talking about…

Well, duh.  I’m going to calm the heck down and when I finish with this spaz attack I’ll just set some more goals and get to working on those.

When I read the second question I had to reboot my brain.  It must say something about my personality that I completely bypassed the euphoria of having achieved all my goals and snatched fear of having no purpose out of the air and clung to it.  Seems like I should commit to some psychiatric analysis with the proceeds of my first best seller.

I know I’d be ecstatic if I achieved all my life’s goals.  That means wonderful things happened for all the people I care about the most because almost everyone of my goals is centered around them.  I’ve always gotten great feelings from working towards my goals.  But how I could be ecstatic about the work when I’m not guaranteed the results?

Working in the “believe it to achieve it” frame of mind I venture I could technically borrow some ecstasy along the way since I truly believed these goals were going to be achieved and my ecstatic state was as good as mine.  I could… if I trusted that “believing” was enough or even half of what it took to achieve goals.   I feel great about working hard and staying positive as I strive towards my goals.  Feeling right now the same as I would when I had finished my life long goals sounds crazy to me.  Like living on a credit card of joyful feelings I hadn’t earned yet.  I’d much rather pay cash, thank you.  My accomplishments that move me towards achieving my goals are quite enough for me.  I really do enjoy the work.

Day 5 – Are your “shoulds” getting in the way of your happiness?

The infamous coulda, woulda, shoulda!

Are my “shoulds” getting in the way of my happiness?

Being present and purposefully active in living your life (as opposed to simply being alive) leaves little time for “shoulds”. You should either being doing something, or not doing something. Therefore “should” has no place in my thought process. It’s a waste of time. Even worse, a supremely negative waste of time and if you are going to waste time at least do something enjoyable or relaxing. I make it a point to waste time doing positively meaningless things that make me feel good. No feel good ever came of “should”.

I should finish the book outline I started a month ago. There are two options for today and everyday I’m lucky enough to wake up; I can do it or not to do it. “Should” has nowhere to fit into that scenario. It is I am or I am not going to finish the book outline today. In recognizing that “should” is a negative, that “should” accomplishes nothing, I give no power to these kinds of words. A powerless word cannot get in the way of my happiness.

I know I should be more patient with my brother. I have all the facts of the situation and know what the right thing to do is. Dwelling on how I could have been more patient in the past or how I could be more compassionate in the future creates no change other than to pepper me with discouragement. I could use that brain power on deciding whether or not the time is now and if I’m doing that today then what’s the best way to go about it.

The word “should” is a duplicitous time waster. It tricks you into thinking you are doing something about a problem because you are thinking about it but what it is really doing is trapping you into doing nothing outside of thinking about it.

I’ve never seen the inspirational poster that say “You should be the best you be” or affirmations that start with “I should be strong and confident”. They’d never work. There is no motivation or action in “should”. But a bold font, big printed “BE THE BEST YOU CAN BE” or “I AM STRONG AND CONFIDENT” force you to at least try or make a liar out of them.

Happiness is a choice. It’s a lifestyle that you choose. Two people with the same lives, same upbringing, same tragedies, same triumphs and you’ll easily find one is quite happy and the other is far from it. The happy one is not by accident. They don’t deal in “shoulds” because they “are”. The unhappy lives the life of “should” and will dwell there until they make a choice to not despair the “should” but make an activity driven decision to do or decide to not do and then let it go. Turns out I have to end up letting go of a lot but the flip side is I also get meaningful things done and those contribute to my happiness.

Day 4 – In what ways are you being perceived, that you’re not aware of?

I don’t know about this one. Seems like a trick question. And if there was ever a chance to over think something it would definitely be when you are answering life altering questions and posting them to a potential million person audience. (or 20 person audience depending on what date in the next ten years you are reading this blog)

In what ways am I being perceived, that I am not aware of?

I would say I’m pretty good at reading people. Being engaged and present in interactions with people. Always observant and responsive to reading their body language. Truly listening to their words and hearing what they are saying as well as what they are not saying. I’m so confident in these skills that I’d be shocked if I was being perceived in a way that I was not aware of.

I’m not a fan of the unknown. My personality type does not find anything liberating or exciting about whirling (or sitting) through life letting whatever happens, just happen. I don’t have to control everything. I’m a realist and I know can’t and refuse to stress and worry about what I can’t control.

But what things I can control or influence I like to have a good handle on. How people treat you is closely tied to their perception of you and. Not on the person you are or how you deserved to be treated but simply on their perception of the person you are and the standard to which they hold the type of person they have labeled you to be. I like to be treated with kindness and respect so my actions and words project and expect that.

I’m much less concerned about what people think about me as I am with how people treat me. A lady walks past me on the street and thinks my confident stride reeks of conceit; I couldn’t care less. That has no effect on my life. The guy who works at customer service and thinks I look like a woman who is going to use a lot of cuss words to return a broken coffee maker; I’d prefer his perception be that I look more like a woman who can fit at least six pleases and thank you’s into a purchase return. That has a some effect on his life as this is his job but also an effect on my life though obviously smaller.

People I deal with on a more personal and continuous level would know the real me. There is no agenda or fakery with me. No putting on airs or different personas for different situations or audiences. I want everyone to be happy all the time but at the very least be happier in any moments that involve me. Any
time spent and I’d like to think any interaction ends with a perception of a generous, clever, amusing woman who cares enough to connect and enrich the lives of anyone she encounters.

Please let me know if this post gave a different perception to you! All comments welcome.  I’m incredibly interested in what and how people think and I’d love a peek inside any thoughts provoked.

Day 3 – What are your values and are you being true to them?

This question is really over a dozen questions once you break down the different areas and started an avalanche of sorts of multiple thought streams that I need to rein in. There were several categories from spiritual to work to friends but I’ll go with family and try to keep it under 500 words!

The article states that when we don’t act congruently with what we value, symptoms of discomfort arise. I’d have to agree with that so let’s hope we are heading into a comfortable self-analysis because I don’t drink so if this blogging experiment goes all wrong there’s no numbing the pain.

What are my values and am I being true to them?

We’ll start with a list and work in the ‘am I being true to it’ answers to keep it neat.

Family Rules

Family

1. Responsibility – This is near to the core of my existence. So much so that I’m convinced that if it were not for the birth of my son there is little hope that I would have made it past my 21st birthday. I had a strong sense of responsibility towards my family, in the face of overwhelming apathy as long as I could remember. I couldn’t stand my mom or my brothers at different intervals of adolescents but if you said something even remotely critical about them I’d likely try to pull your tongue out. So while I was loyal to these one sided relationships, they gave me nothing in return. But when I first held my son, and each of my babies since, the responsibility to love, care for, protect and raise them became my reason for being. In this I have never wavered or slacked and I have been true to this my whole life.

2. Love above all things – when I think of family, outside of my own children, I’d have to say that it is very over-rated. Being tied to and responsible for all these people who don’t care about you; that is my experience of family so everything else I see on television or read in book and especially the smiley “yeah for family” stuff posted on Facebook always seemed very make-believe to me. I can see how you could have it with the family you pick (husband and kids) but not with the one you are born to. Given that this was my reality, I feel like I am still very true to this value as I still love (verb love) them all the best I can. If they hurt, then I hurt because I love them, outside of all the BS, and above all else.

3. Faith in God – There are a set of morals that I feel are necessary for you to be a good person and live a fulfilled life that honors the gift of your existence and those morals are conveniently listed in my religion. There is a lot of extra stuff in there also but I try to not let that distract me from the fact that there is a God. You don’t have to believe in him for that statement to be true but my life is enhanced when I acknowledge him. My families faith in God means to me that we are all working from the same set of rules and expectations and I find great security in that and nurture it in my husband and children staying true to this value.

I’m feeling a little like after written finals in high school where you are pretty sure you answered the questions correctly but you could be totally off and jacking up your grade. But this is worse because I’ll never get a grade so I’ll never know! I’ll just say it’s enough that I’m four days into my self-imposed blog challenge and I have three post so just on participation points I’m pulling a good A- or B+ and I’m happy with that.

650 words… 150 words over my promise… geez… okay… B-

Day 2 – Why don’t you do things you know you should be doing?

Ooooh… this one will be EASY!

Why don’t I do things I know I should be doing?

First, I’m stubborn as the day is long. If there was a donkey in the zodiac I would have been born under that sign. If you asked any of my friends and family if I was a little stubborn even the most loving and polite would repeatedly nod yes, very hard, and correct the question by putting “very” in front of stubborn. So stuck in my ways that sometimes I don’t do something just to spite myself.

Second, plain old fear. Fear of failure. Fear of using up all my options. Fear of being wrong about what I believe I should be doing.

I would definitely list on my personal flaws board “not doing what I should be doing”. These to do’s usually solely apply to things I should be doing for myself; continuing my education, taking a break and getting a message, doing my writing before doing the laundry, etc. But unfortunately sometimes it affects other people like me stalling for almost a year now on teaching my daughter Spanish, because first I would need to learn Spanish. It’s a pretty unattractive trait. Kind of an Anti-Life Skill really.

If I mind mapped it (which is something I rarely do but people keep talking about) I’d probably be pretty disgusted with the bubbles floating out from this question. Stubborn and Fear sure do sound a whole hell of a lot better than Lazy, Self-Defeating or Don’t Know What the Heck I’m Doing! Maybe they all apply but in the pursuit of defending my life choices I’m going to stick with the first two and make sure to keep my eyes open for the rest.

Wish I could say that this question made me re-think how I do things and while it has made me take a look at what I’m not doing that I should be doing – I’m probably still not going to learn Spanish tomorrow.