Recognizing the signs of child abuse – from the Temple Daily Telegram

Unfortunately, child abuse is far too prevalent and often goes unnoticed, or worse, ignored. The number of children suffering each year from abuse is staggering. According to the Texas Department of Family and Protective Services, there were 66,721 confirmed cases of child abuse or neglect in Texas in 2015. Among those cases, 8,127 were in Central Texas. Recognizing the telltale signs of child abuse and can save children from suffering abuse in our community.

There are four main types of child mistreatment: physical, neglectful, emotional and sexual abuse. Physical abuse includes physical injury that causes harm or the threat of physical injury to a child. Physical abuse involves punching, shaking, kicking, beating, biting, choking and burning, and is considered abuse regardless of whether the individual intended to hurt the child. Signs that a child is being physically abused include frequent injuries such as bruises, cuts, broken bones, black eyes and burns without plausible explanations; bruises or burns in unusual patterns such as the shape of an object or fingerprints, bite marks, cigarette burns; multiple complaints of pain without obvious injury; fear of going home; aggressive and destructive or passive and withdrawn behavior; clothing that may be hiding injuries to arms or legs, such as wearing long sleeves during summer; or presence of injuries after not seeing the child for several days.

The second type of abuse is neglect, characterized by the intentional failure to provide a child’s basic needs. Signs of neglect include obvious malnourishment, torn or dirty clothing, lack of hygiene, being unattended for long periods of time, frequent absences or tardiness at school, stealing or begging for food, or an unaddressed need for glasses, medical attention, or dental care.

Emotional abuse involves aggressive language, yelling, name calling, insults, humiliation, extreme forms of punishment (such as confining a child in a dark closet), excessive criticism, destruction of personal belongings or withholding attention. Emotional abuse causes significant psychological harm. According to the American Psychological Association, emotional abuse is as harmful as physical or sexual abuse. Signs of emotional abuse include low self-esteem; depression, anxiety or aggression; over-compliance; difficulty making friends; or delayed physical, emotional, or intellectual development.

The fourth type of abuse is sexual abuse. Sexual abuse involves engaging in any form of sexual contact with a child, asking a child to engage in sexual activities, indecent exposure of genitals, exposing a child to pornography or using a child to produce pornography. Signs that a child is being sexually abused include physical signs of a sexually transmitted disease; evidence of injury to genital area; sexual comments or behavior; extreme fear of being alone with adults of a certain gender; sexual knowledge beyond what’s expected for age; pregnancy in a young girl; guilt, self-blame, or depression; nightmares or insomnia; or sexual victimization of other children.

If you are concerned at all that a child is possibly being abused, please call Child Protective Services immediately at 1-800-252-5400. Your call could save a child’s life.

Dr. Nishath Farhad is a pediatric resident at Baylor Scott & White McLane Children’s Medical Center.

Parent’s Corner – How Far Would You Go?

 

1-22-17

 

Dear Sue Ellen

 

My family don’t like my boyfriend.  We have a baby and I want my family to be around us buy my boyfriend says no.  Sometime he gets real mad and pushes me around a little bit.  That’s why my family doesn’t like him.  I know he don’t mean to hurt me.  I love him but I miss my family so much.  It makes me sad that my baby girl won’t get to know my parents and my sister.  I tried to tell my boyfriend that my family won’t get between us but he don’t listen.  I am stuck in the middle.  He would be real mad if he knew I wrote to you but I am desperate.

Sad Girl

 

Dear Sad Girl,

 

Let me review.  You have a boyfriend you say you love, but he doesn’t want you to be around your family and he gets mad and pushes you around sometimes.   I am guessing that he gets mad at you when you don’t do exactly what he tells you to do or when he is in a bad mood, and somehow it always ends up being your fault.  He throws a fit and then afterwards he sucks up to you and acts all nice.  Am I right?

 

What I have just described is a classic domestic violence scenario.  You say you love him, but how far are you willing to go for love?  Are you willing for him to abuse your baby girl?  Are you willing to live in fear of making him angry all the time?  Are you willing to give up your family for him?  Are you willing to go on being abused because you love him?

 

The way he treats you is not love.   In other words, he is not loving you back.   He is abusing you.  If this continues, he will destroy you.  Are you willing to be destroyed for love?  Over time you will be stripped of your confidence.  What are you teaching your baby girl about life?

 

Please take your baby and go home to your family before this situation takes a sinister turn and somebody gets really hurt.  If your boyfriend loves you he will get help and try to win you back.  If he is an abuser he will probably try to punish you for leaving.  He may lie to you and say things will be better if you just come back to him, but they won’t unless he gets help.  And, things won’t change overnight.

 

You must make some hard choices or you will be a sad girl all your life and you will teach your baby to grow up and become a sad girl too.  Please get help now.

 

Please email your parenting questions to sejackson@awarecentraltexas.org and put “Parent’s Corner” in the Subject line.

If you need help, please call one of the following: Family Violence Unit Hotline-254-813-0968,  Families In Crisis – and National Domestic Violence Hotline – 1800-799-7233(SAFE)

Parent’s Corner- Sweet Girl

1-16-17

 

Dear Sue Ellen

 

I have spent the last 17 years raising my daughter and she is acting like she can’t get away from me fast enough.  I have given her everything she ever wanted and she never shows gratitude. She ignores me except when she wants something from me.  It’s all about her and what she wants.  I have dedicated my whole life to raising her and she has turned out to be a very selfish girl.  Is this a phase she will grow out of?  She was so sweet when she was a little girl.  I want my sweet girl back.

A.J.

 

Dear A.J.

 

You know what birds teach us about raising kids, right?  When it is time for the baby bird to fly, the mama nudges them out of the nest.  When it is time for our babies to fly away it is usually a little more complicated.  Some parents look forward to the day their kids leave home while others struggle with it.  Either way, it is a big life change.  It is our job as parents to prepare our children for the day they will become independent.  Our children go from being totally dependent to independent in 18 short years.  That is a drastic change in a relatively short amount of time.

 

Have you ever seen those old people that shake their heads at the next generation coming up and repeat themselves about how things were better when they were young?

I am trying not to be one of those old people, but really….kids today don’t seem to have a clue.  Your daughter isn’t the only young person of her generation that thinks the world revolves around her.  There is a sense of entitlement among our young people today like I’ve never seen before.

 

I think parents are trying to protect their children from a rapidly changing world that isn’t always safe.  They have been so focused on trying to give their children everything they wanted, they forget to give them what they need.  Kids need to be toughened up so they can face life.  It is hard on a lot of parents to NOT give their kids everything they want.  The world doesn’t get handed to most of us on a silver platter.  Your daughter will learn that soon enough.  Be patient with her.  She is getting ready to fly away.  She will still be your daughter and hopefully time and life will soften her back up and you will see the sweet girl she was again.

 

Here is the big question for you.  What are you going to do with yourself when your daughter leaves home?  It is time for you to start planning your next life adventure.

 

Please email your parenting questions to sejackson@awarecentraltexas.org and put “Parent’s Corner” in the Subject line.

Parent’s Corner – Friend Me

Dear Sue Ellen

 

I am a mom and I’ve heard that child molesters, hackers, and kidnappers monitor kids online.  Is this something I should talk to my kids about?

Molly

 

Dear Molly:

 

Here’s the short answer:  YES!

 

Socialization among youths has drastically changed over the past few years, and it is good for children to have confident social skills, but there are a host of dangers for kids online.

 

Since social media has become the common way for kids to communicate, there has been a drastic increase in sex trafficking.  Sex traffickers are masters at disguising themselves as teens looking for friends online.  They send out masses of “friend me” requests.  If a child accepts their offer, the plan to win over their trust and eventually schedule a place/time to meet them in person begins.  Here is an example of how kids are kidnapped through an online connection:  a teenage boy invites a girl to “friend him”.  The girl doesn’t know him but he is good looking and seems like a nice guy according to his profile.  In reality, he is a 31-year-old felon involved in sex-trafficking.  If this girl ever agrees to meet him in person she will disappear and her parent’s may never see her again.

 

Sexual predators also lull kids online.  Have you seen the shows on TV about this very thing?  Bad people are constantly trolling the internet looking for ways to do evil things.

 

Your children need to be taught ways to protect themselves from online predators.  They should only “friend” people they know and can verify it’s them.  If they get a strange request, or if something else weird or unusual appears on any of their social media accounts, they need to come to you.  Since kids can access social media on their phones, they need to tell you if they receive a call from someone they don’t know, or better yet, they need to routinely block callers they don’t recognize.  Be involved with your kids and their involvement in social media.  Empower them to be self-protective.  Don’t underestimate the compelling seduction of evil.

 

 

 

Please email your parenting questions to sejackson@awarecentraltexas.org and put “Parent’s Corner” in the Subject line.

Parent’s Corner – Bad Party

 

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1-2-17

Dear Sue Ellen,

Me and my boyfriend were at a party, and it got real weird.  He’d had a few beers is all. Suddenly, he got mad and started screaming and then he tried to hit me and I don’t know why.  We’ve lived together for five years and have a couple of kids together.  A friend took me home that night but my boyfriend hasn’t been home since.  He did this one time before, but he promised me he would never do it again.  I don’t know what to do.

  1. L.

 

Dear T. L.

You are giving me a headache.  Where do I begin?   This whole scenario sounds like some reality TV drama.  I would like to climb on a big rock and shout to the whole United States of America.   This is what I would say.  “People!  How you live as adults effects the people around you, especially your kids!”   Your life is a train wreck and you are standing on the tracks, looking at the engine headed toward you; wondering what to do.

 

Are you even slightly aware of the peril you and your children could be in?  Do you have a mother?  Did she ever talk to you about bad relationships?

 

Let’s review.  You went to a party with your boyfriend.   Where were your kids?  Do you have a sitter you can trust, or did you leave them with someone who may, or may not, take good care of them?  Let’s hope for the best, and assume that someone babysat your children and didn’t molest or abuse them.   When you and your boyfriend went out to party that night, did it ever occur to you that he might get drunk, or high or stupid in some other way?  If the answer is yes, then how could that possibly be fun for you… unless you were going to do something equally as irresponsible at the party and didn’t care what your boyfriend did?  My head is spinning, and we haven’t even gotten to the part where he starts to get violent.

 

Angry, irrational people are toxic.  I’m not hating on them or judging them, it’s just a fact.  Those are the kind of people you need to love from a distance.  He is the train on your track.  What do you do?  Get off the track!

 

I feel for your children.   You are subjecting them to an unhealthy lifestyle where there is the threat of domestic violence and abuse.  You are a victim too, but you are the adult in the situation and your children are defenseless.  You have got to make some serious changes in your life.  My best advice to you is stay away from bad boys and bad parties.  Focus on raising those two precious children and giving them a loving stable home.

 

Please email your parenting questions to sejackson@awarecentraltexas.org and put “Parent’s Corner” in the Subject line.