Preventing and healing child abuse in your community

Preventing and healing child abuse in your community
By: Mandy Haack Last Updated: May 9, 2019

Child abuse and neglect affects more than one million children every year. These numbers spread throughout neighborhoods and cities, and could be right down the street from your very front door.

Porter County Court Appointed Special Advocates (CASA) serves about 200 children a month who have experienced abuse and neglect. Over the last two years, they have served an average of 375 children a year. Without a doubt, the effects of child abuse and neglect are devastating to the children and siblings involved, usually having life-long implications for victims.

People may find it surprising to learn, though, that the effects of child abuse reach much deeper, ripping holes into the very fabric of whole communities. Abuse and neglect affects the foster care system, medical and mental health treatment systems, and juvenile and adult crime rates, among other broad-reaching areas.

Community members in Porter County can help prevent abuse and support healing by recognizing the signs and symptoms of child abuse and contacting appropriate agencies to intervene.

There are four designated types of child abuse -- physical abuse, neglect, sexual abuse, and emotional maltreatment. Almost always, abuse in general occurs with a combination of these types. Picking up the signs of child abuse or neglect could very easily save someone’s life.

A child may be experiencing abuse if she/he:

  • Shows sudden changes in behavior or school performance.
  • Has not received help for physical or medical problems brought to the parents’ attention.
  • Has learning issues not attributed to specific physical or psychological causes.
  • Is always watchful, as though something bad could happen.
  • Lacks adult supervision, doesn’t prefer it.
  • Is overly compliant, an overachiever, or too responsible.
  • Comes to school early, stays late, and does not want to go home.

An adult may be abusing a child if the adult:

  • Shows little concern for the child, rarely participates in activities such as field trips or school conferences.
  • Denies the existence of, or blames the child, for the child’s problems at school or at home.
  • Asks the classroom teacher to use harsh physical discipline if the child misbehaves.
  • Sees the child entirely as a burden.
  • Demands perfection or a level or physical or academic performance the child cannot achieve.
  • Looks primarily to the child for care, attention, and satisfaction of emotional needs.

If you suspect possible abuse or neglect, it’s your turn to take action and call Indiana’s child abuse hotline at 1-800-800-5556, or 911.

You can get more involved with preventing and healing child abuse by supporting or volunteering with CASA which is an excellent way of becoming a part of a child’s journey to a better life.

Investment in preventive support leads to healthier child development and lowers the number of children affected by abuse and neglect. Give back to the cause by donating to programs, like Porter County CASA, that help prevent child abuse.

For more information on Porter County CASA, and how you can help, visit their website or call 219-464-9585.