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4.16.13

Child Abuse Prevention

Child abuse is not only traumatic to the child, but can cause life-long problems for the abused and the family.

About 28,000 child abuse cases were reported in Illinois last year.  Child abuse can cause many emotional and physical issues for the individual.  It can arise in several forms says, Dr. Careyana Brenham, assistant professor of family and community medicine at SIU School of Medicine in Springfield.

“... probably the most prevalent is neglect.  People sometimes forget about that as a form of child abuse, but children not getting proper food, nutrition, taken to school. We’ll see medical neglect, where parents fail to seek medical services for their children for either preventive health issues or even seeking care for their children for chronic medical problems or acute medical issues.”

Dr. Brenham says these children’s medical problems are often the result of physical and sexual abuse or lack of a safe home environment.

She says the role of the medical community is to provide medical care to child abuse victims, assist the families with services and to report the abuse to the Department of Children and Family Services.  Other organizations including the Child Advocacy Center also provide support services.

“The Child Advocacy Center in Springfield and Sangamon County works with particularly sexually abused children and helping coordinate and offering a family-safe place for children and their families to go to receive services, whether that be counseling, help with if there are trials that end up happening, supporting the family through that, supporting the investigation.”

Dr. Brenham urges parents, teachers and other adults to watch for signs of possible abuse to children and report it to DCFS or other community organizations that can help the child.  To learn more about protecting children from abuse, go to www.state.il.us/dcfs.

Ruth Slottag