When you suspect a child is in danger, there’s no time to waste. In 2019, the most recent year data was available, an estimated 1,840 children nationally died from abuse or neglect — an average of 5 per day.
While child abuse reports decreased in 2020, many believe it stems from people who normally report cases — like teachers, day care workers, and police officers — spending less time around children during the pandemic. Because of this, knowing how to spot the signs of child abuse have never been more important for all adults, not just trained professionals.
Ways to Get Help
There are so many ways to get help for a child abuse victim, it can be overwhelming to start. Here’s some tips for where to get help for child abuse in the United States:
1. Tell someone
Children often notice if something is wrong with their friends, no matter the age. If you are a child and suspect your friend is in trouble, talk to a teacher, guidance counselor, or adult you know and trust immediately.
2. Report Potential Child Abuse
The first step for anyone who suspects a child is being abused is to report it. If you suspect a child is being abused, call (800) 4-A-CHILD (800-422-4453) immediately. Child abuse reports can be made anonymously.
To report child abuse in Maryland, call the Department of Human Services at (800) 332-6347, or contact your local department of social services.
3. Get Professional Help
There are many places to get help with child abuse, both for the child and the family.
Child abuse victims should be physically examined by a doctor as well as seen by a professional therapist to assess trauma from physical, mental, emotional, and sexual child abuse.
Contact us today to make an appointment for a Maryland-based child abuse victim in need of therapeutic treatment options.
4. Seek Legal Protection
When a child is separated from an abuser, they often come back, whether it’s days or years later. Legal aid, such as restraining orders and guardianship documents, can make a child feel safer in a new home.
If you can’t afford a lawyer, some firms offer free legal help for child abuse victims and their families.
How Can I Help My Child Get Over Abuse?
When a child suffers, the entire family unit does, too. Whether you’re a biological parent who’s child was abused, or you’re a foster or adoptive parent with an abused child in your care, there are a few steps you can take to help a child cope with their trauma safely.
Be a safe space: Children struggling with the trauma of child abuse may “act out” to try to mask pain they can’t explain or completely withdraw from others. Some of these negative coping mechanisms include substance abuse, running away from home, and violent or reckless behavior. If your child comes to you and tells you how they are feeling, listen.
Cognitive behavioral therapy: This one-on-one treatment option can teach abuse victims coping mechanisms to live with post-traumatic stress disorder and other mental health struggles. This is one of the most common types of talk therapy for children and adults.
Child-parent psychotherapy: This is a great option for foster or adoptive parents as well as parents who were not the abuser. This treatment option helps the family bond as a unit, teaching parents healthy skills to foster growth in the child as well as building trust between the abused child and parents.
Contact Advanced Behavioral Health for Help
At Advanced Behavioral Health, we understand the unique needs of children in the aftermath of trauma. If your child is the victim of abuse, call us today and make an appointment with one of our licensed therapists.
However, the journey of therapy is not the only step. If your child is asking questions you do not know the answers to, it is comforting to tell them that while you do not have the answer at that moment, you will find the answer so both of you can understand and work through it together. We can help your family overcome trauma and begin to build again.