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Child Abuse and Neglect - Topic Overview

How can you prevent child abuse and neglect?

To protect your child from abuse:

  • Listen to your child. Let him or her know it is safe to talk about anything with you.
  • Get to know your child's friends and their families.
  • Screen all caregivers, such as babysitters and day care centers. Find out what they know about child health, child development, and child care. This may include getting permission for a police background check.
  • Teach your child the difference between "good touches" and "bad touches."
  • Take a break. Ask a family member or friend to give you a break when you feel overwhelmed. Learn healthy ways to manage stress. Look online for information and support, such as Childhelp (www.childhelp.org).
  • Get help if you have ever been a victim of abuse. Having a history of being abused increases your chances of becoming an abuser. A good place to start is the Childhelp hotline at 1-800-4-A-CHILD (1-800-422-4453). You can talk to a counselor for free without giving your name.

To help other children:

  • Learn to recognize the signs of abuse and neglect. For example, a child may not grow as expected, may be dirty or unhealthy, or may seem fearful, anxious, or depressed.
  • Know the names of your neighbors and their children. Offer to help a new parent. Child abuse becomes less likely if parents and caregivers feel supported.
  • Be an advocate for children. Support any group that helps parents at risk of abusing their children. Donate time, money, or goods to a local domestic violence shelter.
  • If you see abuse or neglect happening, speak up. A child's life may depend on it.

Frequently Asked Questions

Learning about child abuse and neglect:

Signs of abuse and neglect:

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WebMD Medical Reference from Healthwise

Last Updated: December 07, 2012
This information is not intended to replace the advice of a doctor. Healthwise disclaims any liability for the decisions you make based on this information.
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