It’s a tough topic to talk about or witness. We’re talking about child abuse. As parents, our top prority is to keep our children safe and secure.
Carle Abuse Safety Team Leader Dr. Brent Reifsteck explains how common child abuse is in Champaign County and steps to prevent it.
Central region is higher than any other region in State of Illinois reporting and indicated reporting per thousand kids. Rate is rising faster than any other region. So this is really important for us to keep top of mind.
Unsafe sleep practices can cause the most unintentional harm
The best way for kids to sleep is:
Only on their back
Parents and other siblings should not be in the same bed
Nice firm crib mattress
No bulky blankets, stuffed animals, bumpers
At beginning on baby’s life – same room but not same bed
Sleeping in pairs with a baby or co-sleeping is personal choice
If you are participating, be sure that you are free of drugs, alcohol or other impairments that slow reaction time and decision-making skills
Parents watch their kids and worry about changes in behavior, getting moody or withdrawn as a sign of something serious. Behaviors common to young child like thumb sucking, bed wetting, fear of the dark, clinging can be normal development. Don’t always signal abuse. Best to talk with child or pediatrician to make sure it’s appropriate for their stage of development
Here’s what parents can do to keep kids safe and feeling empowered about their bodies.
Ask kids – how does make you feel – does that feel nice? What if uncle bob touched you somewhere you don’t like? How does that feel? Anytime you feel that or it makes you feel icky, you need to tell me.
Reinforce that all of your parts belong to you. You get to be in charge of them.
Remember that kids don’t always call their body parts the “right names”
For example child might say bottom but really mean vagina
So parents should ask them to identify certain parts
Okay to teach them the proper names, too, but if they don’t use those – know how they do describe those areas
For example sexual play and exploration are a part of the developmental process as long as:
Same age and same developmental
Two 9 year olds exposing themselves to each other can be normal
Talk to pediatrician and just ask
Here is what you can do to help your child be safe:
Prepare them for changes
Encourage them to talk about their feelings
Find professional help when needed
The holidays will be coming up soon and families will be visiting relatives – some they haven’t really met before or seen in awhile. Here’s what you can tell your child:
Never force a child
Remind them their body is theirs alone
Encourage high fives or fist bumps as alternatives
Ask them how those interactions and touches make them feel
For more questions and resources available:
IL Dept. of Children & Family Services
24-hour Child Abuse Hotline 800-25-ABUSE
If in immediate danger, all 911