This Child Abuse Prevention Month, TexProtects worked to increase awareness and provide families with ideas and resources.
April is National Child Abuse Prevention Month, a special observance to highlight the current initiatives improving the child welfare system. Protecting children is an everyday mission for TexProtects and our partners.
According to the Department of Family and Protective Services DataBook, in 2019:
- There were 294,739 total reports of child abuse, 23% of which were victims of child maltreatment and 14% of which were confirmed investigations
- Of the confirmed allegations of abuse and neglect, 55.5% of victims were ages 0-5, 27.1% were ages 6-11, and 17.3% were ages 12-17
- 72.7% of all confirmed child maltreatment victims were due to neglectful supervision
- 235 children died of abuse and neglect, an 11% increase from 2018
- 18,615 children were removed from their families due to child maltreatment
The prevention of child abuse and neglect is especially important due to the challenges that COVID-19 has created. Evidence shows that numerous risk factors, including social isolation, financial instability, and other stressors have high potential to increase risk for abuse and neglect. With the impact of this pandemic, a primary concern is that although reports of abuse may decline, incidents of child maltreatment may be increasing. Educators and medical professionals make up the majority of reporters for suspected child abuse. But with stay-at-home orders leaving fewer eyes on kids, how can we, as communities, help prevent child maltreatment in the midst of this crisis?
TexProtects has proactively created a variety of tools to promote positive family and community engagement. These include:
- Our Get Help guide which shares helplines for support and basic needs resources for youth and families;
- A Survival Kit where you can donate to a family in need;
- The Family Guide to Thrive with resources for tips on parenting, support for fathers, at-home learning toolkits, and coping with COVID-19;
- Our handout on 10 parenting strategies during COVID-19; and
- Daily tips on Facebook with resources to empower families to move, make, meet, and practice mindfulness to help build connections and care for each other and ourselves during these difficult times.
In addition, through op-eds and statements to the press, we are working to increase awareness of child abuse and neglect prevention strategies. We are also working to provide families and communities with actionable ideas and resources to better support families and ensure children are safe, nurtured, and resilient.
Child Abuse Prevention Month carries a more meaningful purpose during this April, but the solutions remain unchanged. We must ensure that families are plugged into the network of support in their communities because no family can do it all alone. And by supporting families, we can better ensure that every child has a nurturing, responsive caregiver on which to depend. In big and small ways, each one of us has a unique opportunity to be part of this solution especially in times of social isolation. Check on a neighbor, help connect families in need to resources, offer support to the parents in your own life, and of, course, if you suspect child abuse or neglect, make a report.
To report suspected child abuse or neglect, you can call the Texas Child Abuse Hotline at 1-800-252-5400 or report online at txabusehotline.org.