Anytime a child is abused or neglected, it’s a tragedy – one that all too often scars victims for a lifetime. The latest statistics from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services are sobering:
● Child Protective Services agencies across the United States received some 3.4 million referrals of abuse or neglect involving 6.3 million children in 2012.
● An estimated 1,640 children died from child abuse or neglect in 2012, nearly three-quarters of them younger than age 3.
● In Maryland, a child is abused every 40 minutes.
Studies have shown that children who have suffered abuse or neglect are more likely to struggle in school, have run-ins with law enforcement, experience homelessness or abuse drugs or alcohol. Research also shows that abused children are more apt to grow up to abuse their own kids.
At Court Appointed Special Advocate, we help abused and neglected children heal so they can live happier, safer lives. Our CASA volunteers – court-appointed special advocates – make sure kids don’t get lost in the overburdened legal and social service systems or languish in unsupportive foster homes. CASA volunteers stay with children until their court case is closed and the child is placed in a safe, permanent home.
During National Child Abuse Prevention Month, we invite our community to learn more about the work we do and consider becoming a CASA volunteer. Join Court Appointed Special Advocate for an Open House on April 23rd from 3:30-8 in our new office at 6811 Kenilworth Avenue, Suite 402 in Riverdale to learn about ways you can support CASA to help victims of child abuse and neglect.
Not everyone can be a CASA volunteer, but everyone can be an advocate by taking steps to make our community safer for our children:
· Be mindful of the signs of abuse and neglect in children, such as a lack of adult supervision, extreme passivity or aggression or poor hygiene.
· Be aware of warning signs in parents, such as showing indifference or rarely touching or looking at their child, constant verbal criticism, demands for perfection, blaming the child for family problems or other irrational behaviors.
· If you think a child is in immediate danger, don’t hesitate. Call 911.
· If you believe a child is being abused or neglected, report your suspicions confidentially to our county’s child abuse hotline at 301-909-2450.
Working together, we can end abuse and neglect so that every child has a chance to thrive.
To find out more about Court Appointed Special Advocate, visit us online at www.pgcasa.org.