April is Child Abuse Prevention Month – Protecting our most vulnerable citizens
Sadly, Kentucky has ranked #1 or near the top in infant deaths due to abuse and neglect. This session I sponsored HB157 and in 2010, I sponsored HB 285, both bills passed in to law deal with protecting our most vulnerable citizens, our children from needless incidents of abuse.
Thank you to each and everyone one of you who work and advocate to assure KY’s children are safe. A special appreciation to our dedicated physicians, practitioners, nurses, social services staff and CASA volunteers as they daily witness this heart break.
I would like to share the following Louisville Courier- Journal article by Stephen Wright who also joined me in committee this year and testified in support of HB 157. “Once again, my heart is broken. Another child has lost his life — a victim of child abuse, allegedly beaten by the mother’s boy-friend. This does not have to hap- pen. Parents must recognize the risk factors that may lead to their children’s deaths or lifelong, devastating neurological injuries. Having an unrelated male caregiver is one of the risk factors. Do not take this risk! I urge parents to avoid leaving their children with someone who uses drugs, has anger management issues, is violent and/or does not understand child development, especially if your child is younger than 4 or has special health care needs. As we enter April, which is National Child Abuse Prevention Month, I must share some sobering facts: Kentucky has consistently ranked as one of the worst states in the country for the rate of child abuse and deaths tied to child abuse. Every single day there is a child at Kosair Children’s Hospital who is victim of abuse. Almost every single week we have at least one, sometimes two children who are injured so severely that they require care in our “Just for Kids” Critical Care Center. Child abuse is 100 percent preventable.
It does not need to happen! Parenting is a difficult task. I understand becoming frustrated but it is never OK to take those frustrations out on a child. Babies cry. They may cry because they are tired, hungry or need their diaper changed. They use crying to communicate. Toddlers may cry because they don’t know how to tell you what they want or they’re frustrated. Babies and kids may even cry for no apparent reason. It’s important to remember that they don’t cry to be bad or make you angry. If you do find yourself becoming frustrated, it is OK to take a break. Put the baby in a safe place and step away for a few minutes. Take a few deep breaths, listen to your favorite song or do a few exercises. You can also call a trusted friend or relative or call the Child Help National Child Abuse Hotline at (800) 4-A-CHILD/(800) 422- 4453. Admit that you are becoming frustrated. Bring the child in your care to Kosair Children’s Hospital where caregivers will work with you to prevent another needless death. If you’re a parent, grandparent or other caregiver, be aware of the early signs of child abuse. It may save a child’s life.
Thanks to research done at Kosair Children’s Hospital, we know that certain bruises on a child can indicate child abuse: A bruise the size of a dime on a child’s abdomen may be an indication of a torn liver. Ears do not bruise easily. If your child has a bruise on his or her ear, that is usually the result of a really hard blow to the head. We know that children under the age of 4 months should not have a bruise anywhere. If a child is under 4 years old, they shouldn’t have a bruise on the torso, ear or neck. If your child or a child you know has these bruises, please bring him or her to Kosair Children’s Hospital for an evaluation. If this isn’t possible, report your concerns to Child Protective Services. Wouldn’t you rather be wrong? Your actions could uncover a history of abuse and may even save a life.”
Stephen Wright, M.D., is the medical director at Children’s Hospital, professor of pediatrics and Academic Advisory Dean at the University of Louisville School of Medicine and Chair of the Partnership to Eliminate Child Abuse.