Child Abuse

CHILD ABUSE HURTS. It is everyone’s problem. It exists in every community.

By recognizing the signs of abuse and knowing what to do, you may save a child from an abusive adult. Seek help from the proper authorities in your area if you suspect a case of child abuse.

Abuse can be physical, sexual, emotional or a result of neglect. The number one reason that triggers infant abuse is a baby’s constant crying. Other reasons that may cause a parent or adult to abuse a child include the following:

» History of abuse during their childhood
» Substance abuse
» Unrealistic expectations of children
» Living at or below poverty level
» Lack of parenting skills
» Abuse from their partner
» Emotional problems – low self esteem or a need to control

Physical abuse involves any injury due to hitting, shaking, kicking, biting, or any other physical harm.

Signs of physical abuse may include:

» Unexplained bruises or broken bones
» Fear of adults
» Defiance and aggression towards others
» Fear of physical contact
» Acting like a child younger than their actual age

Sexual abuse may be physical (inappropriate touching or rape) or nonphysical (indecent exposure, sexual conversations, or showing sexually explicit material such as magazines or movies to the child).Signs of a sexually abused child may include:

» Inappropriate displays of affection from the child
» Abnormal interest or knowledge of sexual behavior
» Wetting pants or bed
» Social withdrawal from others
» Poor performance at school
» Pain during urination

Emotional abuse includes verbal abuse, mental abuse, or severe acts of punishment.

Signs of emotional abuse may include:

» Lack of concentration or emotion
» Rocking, sucking, or biting
» Aggression or depression and withdrawal
» Sleep or speech disorders
» Socially immature for his/her age

Physical neglect is the failure to provide a child with basic needs such as shelter, food, clothing, and hygiene.

Signs of physical neglect may include:

» Clothing that is dirty and/or inappropriate for time of year or weather
» Lack of daily bathing, dirty hair, poor dental hygiene
» Lack of supervision by the parent or adult
» Untreated medical problems
» Lack of concentration due to sleepiness

If you suspect or have knowledge concerning child abuse or abusive behavior, you should report it to the authorities. This can be done anonymously and may save a child’s life.

10 Ways to be a Better Dad

The positive effects on a child from having an involved and nurturing father are many.

They include beneficial impacts on the child’s happiness, social and academic success, self-esteem, and emotional stability.

» Respect Your Child’s Mother

A father and mother who respect each other provide a secure environment for their child. When children see their parents treating each other with respect, they will emulate this behavior, thereby, treating others with respect.

» Spend Time With Your Child

Spending quality time with your child is one of the most important building blocks in developing your child’s self-esteem.

» Talk To Your Child

Take the time to talk to your children about various subjects when everything is going right, not just when you have to be the disciplinarian.

» Discipline With Love

All children need guidance and discipline – not punishment. Teach your children that there are consequences for their actions, but discipline in a calm and fair manner.

» Be A Role Model

Fathers can teach their children what is important in life by demonstrating positive attributes.

» Be A Teacher

A father who teaches his children the difference between right and wrong and encourages them to always do their best will see his children make good choices.

» Have Family Mealtime

Sharing a meal together (breakfast, lunch, or dinner) can be an important part of a healthy family life. Take this time to listen to your children without the distraction of a TV, newspaper, or magazine.

» Read To Your Children

Begin reading to your children when they are infants. When they are older, encourage them to read to you. Reading with your child will not only increase your child’s understanding and thought processes, but will also provide you the opportunity to spend time together.

» Show Affection

Children need the security that comes from knowing they are wanted, accepted, and loved by their parents. Fathers need to feel comfortable and willing to hug their children every day.

» Realize That A Father’s Job Is Never Done

If a solid foundation has been built when the child was young, the additions to the father/child structure will always continue.

Your Child’s Safety

Car Seat Safety

All children under 12 should be securely fastened in the back seat when traveling by car. Never place a child or a child safety seat in the front seat of the vehicle. Air bags can cause death or serious injury to young children.

If the vehicle has rear side-impact air bags, check with the vehicle manufacturer for the safest way to install the car seat.

The safest car seat is the one that fits your child’s size, is properly installed, and is used every time. The back seat is the safest place for any child under 12 years of age.

» Rear-facing seats should be used until the age of one and weighs up to 20 pounds. Even if the baby weighs more than 20 pounds before age one, the rear-facing seat should still be used until his/her first birthday.

Recline at a 45 degree angle, harness slots at or below baby’s shoulders and the harness chest clip at armpit level.
If the infant is not one year old yet, but weighs over 20 pounds, use a rear-facing convertible seat.

» Forward-facing seats can be used for a child that is at least 1 year old and weighs at least 20 pounds. This seat should be used until the child weighs 40 pounds and is at least 4 years of age.

Harness straps should be at or above the child’s shoulders (use the top harness slots) and the harness chest clip should be at child’s armpit level.

» 
Booster seats can be used after your child weighs more than 40 pounds. Use with the adult lap and shoulder belt, never use with lap belt only.

The shoulder belt should cross the chest, resting snugly on the shoulder, and the lap belt should rest low across the upper thighs. Never have the lap belt high across the child’s stomach.

Car Seat Safety Checks

» Is the seat belt attached properly to the car seat?

» 
Make sure the harnesses are snug and flat

» 
Check to assure that the correct harness slots are being used

» 
Place baby blankets around the baby AFTER adjusting the harnesses

» 
Never leave a child unattended in a car seat !!

Finding Good Child Care

Choosing a day care or babysitter is an important decision. There are different kinds of child care providers to choose from and you must decide which is best for you and your child’s needs. Make sure you get recommendations or references from someone you know. After making your selection, follow up and keep a close eye on any signs of a potential problem.

If you know ahead of time that you will need child care, start looking before the baby is born. This will give you plenty of time to find the right place.

Types of child care include:

» Child Care Centers – commercial child care facilities
» Family Child Care – child care within an individual’s home
» In-Home Caregivers – child care in the child’s home
» Care Provided by Relatives, Friends, or Neighbors

If you are considering a Child Care Center or a Family Child Care, visit the site and ask plenty of questions.

» What is the ratio of children to caregiver? Babies should have a ratio of 1:4 (one adult for every four babies). Older children will be okay with a 1:10 ratio.

» How many children are at the facility and what are their age groups?

» What are the caregivers’ credentials (education, training, etc.)?

» What is the turnover of employees working as caregivers?

» Are drop-in visits welcome?

» Is the facility clean and well kept?

» Do you agree with the discipline procedures?

» Do they have references you can call?
If you are considering an in-home caregiver or care provided by relatives, friends, or neighbors, make sure the caregiver has the experience and training (example: CPR or first aid training) necessary to care for your child.

After you have made a decision, continue to be vigilant in watching for signs that may indicate a problem or a change in the care of your child.

Safe Home Environment


A safe home environment is essential to your child’s safety and well-being. More than 4.5 million children are injured in their homes each year. Also, injuries from accidents are the leading cause of death in children today.

THE NURSERY

» DO NOT place the crib next to a window, heater vent, or electrical outlet
» DO NOT place stuffed animals or pillows in the baby’s crib

» DO use a crib with slats that are no more than 2 and 3/8 inches apart and has a solid headboard and footboard
» DO make sure the mattress fits snugly in the crib
» DO remove mobiles from the crib once your child can reach them

OTHER ROOMS

» Keep plastic bags away from the baby or child
» Place safety gates at the tops and bottoms of staircases
» Remove furniture with sharp edges
» Do not place furniture under a window
» Shorten cords on drapes or blinds
» Place poisonous products on upper shelves and install safety latches on the doors
» Place trash can/waste baskets in a locked cabinet or outside
» Put “child proof” covers on all electrical outlets
» Cook on back burners of stove

» DO use a crib with slats that are no more than 2 and 3/8 inches apart and has a solid headboard and footboard
» DO make sure the mattress fits snugly in the crib
» DO remove mobiles from the crib once your child can reach them

OTHER ROOMS

» Keep plastic bags away from the baby or child
» Place safety gates at the tops and bottoms of staircases
» Remove furniture with sharp edges
» Do not place furniture under a window
» Shorten cords on drapes or blinds
» Place poisonous products on upper shelves and install safety latches on the doors
» Place trash can/waste baskets in a locked cabinet or outside
» Put “child proof” covers on all electrical outlets
» Cook on back burners of stove

DO:

• Place your baby on her back in a crib with a firm mattress
• Use tight fitting sheets
• Tuck the baby’s blanket in on the bottom and sides of the crib

DO NOT:

• Allow your baby to sleep in your bed
• Allow your baby to sleep on a sofa or waterbed
• Put stuffed animals or pillows in the baby’s crib
• Put loose quilts or blankets on the baby

If you want to be close to your baby at night, put her crib next to your bed and place her in the crib. Do not place her in your bed. Placing a baby in an adult bed may result in the baby rolling off the bed, suffocation from the comforter or pillows, or suffocation from the adult rolling on top of the baby.

Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS)

Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS) is the leading cause of death for infants younger than 1 year of age.  SIDS has no specific symptoms and is usually diagnosed after all other causes have been ruled out.

There is no single risk factor, but instead several risk factors combined that may increase the risk of SIDS occurring.

Although the cause is unknown, statistics reveal that more incidences occur in colder weather; more boys than girls are affected, twice as many African-American babies and three times as many Native American infants are affected than Caucasian infants.

Reducing Risks

» Place the baby on her back to sleep

» Use a firm mattress and do not leave pillows, blankets, or stuffed animals in the baby’s crib

» Avoid overheating the baby while she is sleeping by using light blankets; keep the baby’s face and head uncovered

» Do not sleep with your infant in your bed

» Do not expose the baby to secondhand smoke

» Breastfeed when possible. Breast-fed babies have a lower SIDS rate than formula-fed babies

» The use of pacifiers have been associated with decreased SIDS rates

Choosing a Pediatrician

Some time during your pregnancy, make an appointment to meet with one or more pediatricians in their offices. Ask you friends, relations or obstetrician to identify individuals they know and respect. The prenatal pediatric visit gives you a chance to get an impression of the office setting, including the waiting area, to learn about the availability of the individual doctor or the group in an emergency, to ask about their philosophy and support for certain feeding and child care practices, to discover the doctor’s (and the staff’s) special medical interests and expertise in child behavior and development, and to see how the doctor blends with your own style and personality.

During a 15-20 minutes interview, plan to ask the doctor the following questions:

  • When are your office hours? (Do they fit with my own schedule?)
  • Whom can we see after office hours?
  • When can I reach you and your staff by telephone?
  • How much time do you schedule for office visits?
  • What hospital do you use when children need urgent or complex care?
  • How frequently do you schedule well child visits in the first year?
  • How do you support breast feeding efforts and difficulties?
  • How much developmental guidance do you provide at each visit?
  • How comfortable are you in helping us with any behavioral problems that may arise?
  • What’s your advice about working and parenting?
  • How well do you know the infant and toddler programs in the community?

While you’re visiting, observe if the waiting area is clean, bright, colorful, playful, safe and calm. Get a sense for how much the staff enjoy their work with children. Note, also how interested the doctor is to ask you questions about yourselves, your health, your pregnancy and your expectations about your child.

Having already started a comfortable relationship with your pediatrician, you will feel more relaxed and confident about approaching childbirth and the life-long devotion of parenting. Best wishes.
Courtesy of Peter A. Gorski, M.D., M.P.A., Director of Program Impact and Innovation at the Children’s Board of Hillsborough County and Professor of Public Health, Pediatrics and Psychiatry at the University of South Florida in Tampa.

When your Child Gets Sick

When your child is sick, remain calm and try to assess whether you need to take her to the doctor or not.  Below are guidelines on what to do and not do when your child is sick.

If you are not sure whether you need to take your child to the doctor, do not worry about looking silly or over-reactive.  It is better to take her and it not be necessary, than to not take her and have something emergent overlooked.

Remain calm and positive

  • Your child will react to your emotions regarding their illness.  Try to stay calm and have a positive attitude so that your child does not become scared or worried.

Explanation and Reassurance

  • Give age appropriate explanations as to why they are sick, what is causing their symptoms, etc. and reassure them that they will feel better soon.

Medicine

  • Do not tell your child the medicine is candy.  Children may mistakenly overdose on medications when the parents are out of the room, if they think it is candy.
  • If your child has trouble swallowing pills, consult with the doctor as to whether the medication can be crushed and mixed with food such as applesauce.
  • Never tell your child that the medicine does not taste bad, if it really does.
  • Never give any medications without consulting a doctor.

 Temperature

  • Under 5 or 6 years, take the child’s temperature in the arm pit.  This usually takes four minutes.
  • After 5 or 6 years of age, the child should be able to hold the thermometer under their tongues for two minutes.  They should not talk or open their mouths while their temperature is being taken.

Fever

  • Fever is the body’s sign that it is fighting an infection.
  • Make sure your child drinks plenty of liquids to prevent dehydration.
  • Never give your child aspirin to reduce the fever.  Use a non-aspirin medicine such as acetaminophen or ibuprofen.
  • If the child’s temperature is over 103° and you cannot get it down; the fever is accompanied by a stiff neck, headache and vomiting; the child is having difficulty breathing, or the child is vomiting and/or has diarrhea, contact his doctor.

Hunger

  • Many times children are not hungry when they are sick.  Do not force them to eat, but make sure they get plenty of liquids to prevent dehydration.  If they are not eating or drinking, consult with your doctor.

Watch Me Grow

Gross and Fine Motor Skills
Children’s bodies are constantly changing.  This complex process continues throughout their childhood.  No two children progress at the same rate.
If your child seems to be developing a little more slowly than other children, do not worry.  If there is a large disparity between your child development and others her age, you may want to consult with your child’s doctor.

The first year

1-2 Months
         Lift their heads when lying on their stomach

2-3 Months
Grasp objects that are placed in their hands

4-6 Months
May roll over onto their sides; can sit propped up

7-9 Months
Pull themselves up to a standing position while holding on to things; begin crawling; increased finger and thumb dexterity

10-12 Months
Can stand without support; begin walking with help
One to two years

  • Walk without support
  • Take off their clothing
  • Walk backwards without support
  • Kick a ball
  • Stack blocks

Two to three years

  • Jump, climb and run
  • Turn doorknobs
  • Increased finger dexterity
  • Draw basic pictures

Three to six years

  • Improved coordination
  • Hop and skip
  • Ride a bicycle
  • Draw pictures and color inside the lines
  • Print letters of the alphabet

Social and Emotional Development
Social and emotional achievements are often harder to distinguish than signs of physical development. Differences result from a child’s temperament, disabilities, cultural influences, and opportunities provided for social interaction.
Some children are cheerful and adaptable while others are not. This difference in temperament will affect how a child responds to new situations and changes, thereby affecting his social and emotional growth.
0-3 MONTHS
» 
Looks at faces and listens to voices
» Cries, smiles
» Quiets when picked up
3-6 MONTHS
» Smiles and laughs
» Cries when upset
» Waves arms and legs when excited

6-9 MONTHS
» Unsure of strangers
» Plays simple games
» May get upset when separated from caregiver
» Responds to his/her name
9-12 MONTHS
» Expresses feelings such as happy, sad, mad, etc.
» Emotionally attached to parent or caregiver
» Enjoys being read to and looking at books
» Imitates others’ actions
12-18 MONTHS
» Likes to explore
» Says simple words such as “mama and dada”
» Is confident, but does not like changes in routine
18-24 MONTHS
» Plays with other children
» Enjoys stories and songs
» Says “NO”!
» Demonstrates loving feelings toward others
24-30 MONTHS
» Uses words to communicate
» Likes people but may be shy in unfamiliar places
» Enjoys games
30-36 MONTHS
» Plays independently
» Begins to share with others
» Separates from caregiver without difficulty in familiar places

CPR for Children

Knowing how and when to administer CPR to your child may save his life.  When performed correctly, CPR restores a child’s breathing and circulation until professional help arrives.

CPR stands for cardiopulmonary resuscitation – a combination of mouth-to-mouth resuscitation and chest compressions.  Although reading about CPR will give a basic understanding, every parent should take a CPR course which is available in most towns and cities.

CPR should only be performed if a child is not breathing and should be administered as quickly as possible once it is determined to be necessary.

The basic parts of CPR are easy to remember as A, B, C

  • Airway
  • Breathing
  • Circulation.

Airway

  • Turn the child flat, face-up on a hard surface
  • Open airway with a head-tilt/chin-lift

Breathing

  • Keeping the airway open, check for breathing
  • Look to see if chest rises, listen for breaths, feel for breaths on your cheek
  • If the child is not breathing, seal the mouth with your mouth
  • Pinch the nose
  • Give 2 breaths, just enough to make the chest rise
  • Watch for chest to rise with breaths
  • If chest rises – go to C (circulation)
  • If chest does not rise – reposition the head and try 2 more breaths
  • Look in the mouth and remove anything that is blocking the airway

Circulation

  • Open chest clothing
  • Put the heel of one hand between the nipples on the breastbone
  • Push hard and fast
  • Push straight down, 30 pushes at a rate of 100 per minute, let chest come up after each push
  • Give 2 breaths after each 30 pushes
  • Do 5 sets of 30 pushes and 2 breaths.  This should take approximately 2 minutes
  • If not already done, call 911
  • Do CPR until child is responding (starting to move) or until professional help takes over

If breathing but not responding:

  • Stop CPR
  • Watch the breathing until professional help arrives
  • If no injuries, roll the child onto one side

Even if breathing and responding, the child should be taken to the nearest Emergency Room by ambulance.

Accidental Injuries to Children

Every year accidental injuries leave thousands of children permanently disabled, disfigured, or dead.  The highest number of deaths is caused by fire and the majority of non-fatal accidents are from falls.
Accidents happen to children because they are inquisitive and learn by exploring.  Although you should not prevent your child from learning, steps should be taken to ensure their safety during this learning process.

Where accidents happen

  • The most number of accidents occur in the living room or dining room of a child’s home.
  • The most serious accidents happen in the kitchen or on the stairs.
  • Babies and toddlers have most accidents in the home
  • School age children have more accidents at school or at play

Types of injuries

  • Older children are more likely to sustain fractures
  • Younger children are more likely to incur burns, scalds, and poisoning

Reasons accidents happen

  • A child’s curiosity
  • Inadequate supervision
  • Showing off and horseplay
  • Inexperience in certain situations

Preventing accidents

  • Never leave a baby on a changing table, bed, or other raised surface without supervision
  • Never leave a baby or toddler near hot drinks or food that they can touch
  • Keep all matches and lighters out of reach
  • Use safety gates at the top and bottom of a staircase
  • Keep floors free of toys and objects that may be tripped over
  • Run cold water in the tub before adding hot water, always test the water before putting your child in the tub
  • Never leave a child or baby in a bath unsupervised
  • Turn handles of pots and pans on the stove toward the back of the stove so a child cannot reach them
  • Keep small objects and toys out of the reach of children under three years of age

Water and Swimming Pool Safety

The second most common cause of death from injuries for children under 14 is drowning. Most drownings occur when the child is out of sight of an adult for less than 5 minutes.

Pool Safety

  • Never leave your child alone or unattended
  • Do not let your child dive into a pool unless you have checked to make sure the water is deep enough
  • Do not let your child run near the pool
  • Teach your child to always swim with a buddy
  • Never think that your child is “drown proof” just because they know how to swim
  • Do not allow your child to eat or chew gum while in the pool
  • Install a safety fence around your pool
  • Install motion detection alarms on the doors and windows leading to the pool
  • Take a CPR class and make sure any caregiver is trained in CPR

Beach Safety

  • Never swim alone
  • Do not swim out too far
  • Swim only in the areas marked for swimming and near a life guard
  • If caught in a riptide (a current pulling you out to sea), swim parallel to the shore, not towards it until you can do so with ease
  • Wear protective footwear to protect your feet from jellyfish or jagged rocks

Poison Safety

There are many items in your house that can be poisonous to your child.  Some of them are obvious, such as insect spray, but other ordinary items and medicines can be just as deadly for your child.

Over a million children are poisoned every year by household products, medicine, and plants.  If you have small children in your household, make sure that all cabinet doors have safety locks and that all potentially dangerous products have child resistant caps on them.

Pesticides

  • Insect sprays can be absorbed through the skin or fumes can be inhaled, affecting the nervous system and making it difficult to breathe

Household Cleaners and Fuels

  • Toilet bowl cleaners, oven cleaners, etc. can cause chemical burns if ingested
  • Bleach or dishwasher soap can be toxic if swallowed
  • Furniture polish, gasoline, kerosene, paint thinners are among the leading causes of death in children who have been poisoned

Plants

Many household and outside plants are poisonous if eaten or sometimes even touched:

  • Morning Glory
  • Azalea
  • Oleander
  • Elephant Ear
  • Mistletoe
  • Daffodil
  • Lily of the Valley
  • Jasmine

Medicines and Vitamins

  • Never tell your child that a medicine or vitamin is candy.  Even an overdose of vitamins with iron may cause death.
  • Keep all medicines out of the reach of children
  • Never give your child medicine without first looking at the label to make sure you have the correct bottle
  • Children often imitate adults, therefore, do not take your own medicine in front of your child.

Alcohol

  • Alcohol poisoning can lead to a coma and/or death
  • There are many types of alcohol, other than the type for drinking, that is used in household products
  • Antifreeze, mouthwash, cologne, and even antibacterial hand cleaners contain alcohol

Symptoms of Poisoning

  • Disorientation
  • Burns or stains around the mouth
  • Drowsiness
  • Convulsions
  • Nausea/vomiting
  • Slurred speech

Do not induce vomiting.

Make sure you have the toll-free Poison Control Center phone number 1-800- 222-1222 posted where it can be easily accessed in case of an emergency.  If your child is conscious, call the Poison Control Center.  If your child is not conscious or is having difficulty breathing, call 911 immediately.