CHILD ABUSE SERIES: The Death of a Child
No one wants to think about the death of a child. I know I don't. But when I started researching the facts for this series, I was startled to learn that 5 kids die from abuse each and every day in the U.S., and that number is greatly under reported.
Why are these deaths under-reported? First, it is not always easy for medical professionals to determine whether or not a child has been abused. Yes, there are certain injuries such as traumatic brain injuries to infants from shaken baby syndrome, or unusual fractures that only occur from bending or twisting, or deep bruising and cuts left by belts, switches, or whatever was handy at the moment, that immediately cause doctors to launch a child abuse investigation. However, there are many cases of criminal neglect that are never reported to an investigator. Second, most states only report the deaths of children who are already in the system. If a child is not being monitored by social services, then the death is not included in the statistics.
What do the statistics show? They identify the victims as the most vulnerable among us. According to ChildHelp:
- 80% were not old enough to attend kindergarten
- Children age two or younger account for more than 70% of the deaths
- At least one parent was involved in 80% of all deaths
- The United States has one of the worst record among the industrial nations
Children do not have to die! Child abuse can be stopped. Parents and caregivers can get help. But--yes there is a but, parents and caregivers need to understand what constitutes child abuse and then they need to reach out for help. There is also something WE can do. Share your concerns with family, friends, and teachers; email your congressman or congresswoman, and ask them to increase funding for programs that help parents break the abuse cycle; get involved with organizations like ChildHelp; speak up when you suspect abuse; talk to your school administrators about including programs on child abuse at your school; and, reach out to your community.
For more information, check out ChildHelp.