This week's topic is about child abuse and maltreatment. Child abuse comes in many forms. Most people only notice signs of physical abuse, but child abuse can also be mental, emotional, or sexual. Child abuse can be committed by guardians or other loved ones as it is not always the parents who abuse. The signs of emotional, mental and sexual abuse can be hard to spot, but keep a watch on how they treat animals and other kids. Physical signs of abuse are unexplained scars, bruising, or burns. The following can be signs of all types of child abuse: withdrawn behaviors, sleep disturbances (difficulty staying or falling asleep; nightmares), poor self-esteem, sudden attempts to avoid certain places/people, decreased interest in activities once enjoyed, changes in school performance, sudden bed wetting, sudden onset of disruptive behaviors (anger or aggressive outbursts, emotional outbursts unprovoked), promiscuity or attention seeking behaviors, and/or risky behaviors or self-harm. Child maltreatment can be best described as not providing food, water, shelter, and basic hygiene for the child. The signs of child maltreatment are unkempt hygiene, fingernails and clothing, unexplained loss of weight, or rashes.
The Sheriff's Office has been notified about nineteen reports of child abuse or maltreatment in our county since January 1, 2022.
According to the Arkansas Department of Education's website, mandated reporters are any of the following: a child care worker or foster care worker, coroner, day care center worker, dentist, dental hygienist, domestic abuse advocate, domestic violence shelter employee or volunteer, employee of the Department of Human Services, employee working under contract for the Division of Youth Services of the Department of Human Services, foster parent, judge, law enforcement official, licensed nurse, medical personnel who may be engaged in the admission, examination, care, or treatment of persons, mental health professional or paraprofessional, osteopath, peace officer, physician, prosecuting attorney, resident intern, a public or private school counselor, school official, social worker, surgeon, teacher, court-appointed special advocate program staff member or volunteer, juvenile intake or probation officer, a clergy member, which includes a minister, priest, rabbi, accredited Christian Science practitioner, or other similar functionary of a religious organization, or an individual reasonably believed to be so by the person consulting him or her, an employee of a child advocacy center or a child safety center, attorney ad litem in the course of his or her duties as an attorney ad litem, sexual abuse advocate or volunteer, rape crisis advocate or volunteer, child abuse advocate volunteer, victim/witness coordinator, professional or volunteer, victim assistance professional or victim assistance volunteer, employee of the Crimes Against Children Division of the Department of Arkansas State Police, employee or volunteer of a reproductive healthcare facility, or an employee of a non-profit organization.
The Child Abuse Hotline is 1-800-482-5964 or (844) SAVEACHILD.