Pee Dee Coalition is committed to the prevention of child abuse and offers several programs and services to help families learn about this problem and to support children in need of immediate assistance.
What Is Child Abuse?
Child abuse is harm to or neglect of a child by another person, whether adult or another child. Child abuse can be physical, emotional, sexual, or neglectful. Abuse can cause serious injury to the child and may even result in death.
What Are the Signs of Child Abuse?
There are many types of abuse including physical, emotional, and sexual assault; and neglect.
Behavioral signs of abuse may include:
- Extremely passive or aggressive behaviors
- Regression to a younger age
- Sexualized behaviors
- Exhibiting low self-esteem
- Show distrust or fear of adults
- Wear many layers of clothing
- Hesitation to change clothes for gym or other activities
- Running away.
Physical Abuse: Child Abuse
There are a few indicators of physical abuse. These include:
- Unexplained or repeated injuries or bruises
- Injuries that are in the shape of an object
- Injuries not likely to happen given the age or ability of the child
- Disagreement between the child’s and the parent’s explanation of the injury
- Unreasonable explanation of the injury.
There are a few indicators of emotional abuse. These include:
- Aggressive or withdrawn behavior
- Shying away from physical contact with parents or adults.
- Sexual Abuse: Child Abuse Prevention
There are a few indicators of sexual abuse. These include:
- Difficulty in walking or sitting
- Stained or bloody underwear
- Genital or rectal pain, itching, swelling, redness, or discharge
- Bruises or other injuries in the genital or rectal area
- Soiling or wetting pants or bed
- Changes in behavior
- Pregnancy in adolescence.
Neglect: Child Abuse
There are a few indicators of neglect. These include:
- Poor hygiene
- Inappropriate clothing
- Lack of medical or dental care.
Who Is Involved?
Offenders and victims could be anyone; coming from any cultural, ethnic, age group, and economic group; anytime; and at any place. The child may or may not know the offender. However, approximately 75 to 90 percent of child sexual abuse offenders are someone the child knows and trusts. It can be a relative, babysitter, or neighbor.
Children don’t report abuse for several reasons:
- Abusers often threaten the child not to tell.
- The child may be afraid of making trouble.
- The abuser coerces the child into believing that the activity is “normal.”
- The child does not think anyone will believe him or her.
- The child might be embarrassed to talk with anyone about such a personal subject.
What Can You Do?
There are several things you can do to help abused children:
- Always take the child’s story seriously even if the offender is someone you thought you could trust.
- Be ready to listen to the child and not blame him/her. Listen for subtle disclosures.
- Be open and understanding of the child’s needs.
- Be willing to report the abuse to authorities such as Law Enforcement, Department of Social Services, or the Durant Children’s Center. The mistreatment will likely continue unless a report is made. Any adult can make an anonymous report to DSS.
You can help reduce child sexual abuse by:
- Educating yourself about child sexual abuse prevention. Call the Durant Children’s Center at 843-664-4357 to get free information, or call the Childhelp Pee Dee 24-hour toll-free child abuse hotline at 1-866-867-9857.
- Talking to your children periodically about touching safety. Make sure the conversation is age-appropriate.
- Asking your school to implement a radKIDS program: A Personal Safety Curriculum” or pre-school through grade 6. Prevent Child Abuse Pee Dee can also provide speakers at no charge to schools, daycare centers, civic clubs, and faith-based organizations throughout the region.
- Learning the risk factors for child sexual abuse. Know where your child is, who they’re with, and what they’re doing. Be aware of adults or teenagers who want to spend a lot of time alone with your child. Supervise our children on all Internet sites and chat rooms.
- Listening, supporting, and believing your child if you suspect abuse.
Child Abuse Services:
Pee Dee Coalition offers the following services to children and families in the Pee Dee community:
- Durant Children’s Center
- Prevent Child Abuse Pee Dee
- ChildHelp Pee Dee 24-Hour Toll Free Helpline: 1-866-867-9857
- Parent Education Parent Support
Research has shown that there are five protective factors which are linked to a lower incidence of child abuse and neglect:
- Nurturing and Attachment
- Knowledge of Parenting and of Child Development
- Parent Resilience
- Concrete Support for Parents
- Social Connections
For more information about the Five Protective Factors or call (843) 332-9299.