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Help protect children from abuse

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Young girl staring

Sometimes, something just doesn’t feel right.

Maybe a child you know has started to act funny — pulling away from you, like they’re hiding something. Maybe they’ve stopped eating, playing or enjoying things they used to love. Or maybe you see a child you don’t know who seems dirty, hungry, scared or overly anxious.

It’s normal to want to help. But the question is how?

First things first. If you suspect a child is being abused or neglected, you must report it to Florida Department of Children & Families via its hotline at 1-800-962-2873 or online here. You don't have to leave your name if you're not a mandatory reporter by law, such as a teacher, child-care worker, doctor or nurse.

NOW, SOME BACKGROUND

Child abuse has devastating consequences for our community. In Palm Beach County, nearly 1,450 children were abused or neglected in recent years — 47 percent were younger than 5 and 83 percent younger than 13.

Besides the immediate dangers, the long-term consequences of abuse/neglect are mind-boggling. Children who experience abuse and neglect are:

  • 9 times more likely to become involved in criminal activity.
  • 25 percent more likely to experience teen pregnancy.

Additionally, two of every three people in treatment for drug abuse report being abused and neglected as a child.

WHAT DOES CHILD ABUSE/NEGLECT LOOK LIKE?

Physical signs:

  • Unexplained bruises, welts, burns or fractures
  • Unkempt or malnourished appearance
  • Loss of appetite
  • Disturbed sleep
  • Discoloration or scarring of genital area, sexually transmitted diseases
  • Repeat urinary tract infections

Behavioral signs:

  • Abrupt changes in behavior (clinginess, aggressiveness, withdrawal, depression, anxiety)
  • Fear of a person or place
  • Discomfort with physical contact
  • Molestation of other children
  • Suicidal tendencies

HOW TO GET HELP

Lastly, it’s important to remember that caring for children is hard work. If you'd like guidance managing your emotions and feelings as a parent or caregiver, these organizations can help:

SOURCES:

Childhelp
Centers for Disease Control & Prevention
The Ounce of Prevention Fund of Florida
The Florida Department of Children & Families







 

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For a listing of all resources, click here.
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