The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), recognizes child abuse as a significant public health issue in the United States as an estimated one in four children have experienced child abuse or neglect at some point in their lives. Each year, during the month of April, proclamations are declared by the White House and many state governments to raise awareness and provide educational resources for communities across the United States to prevent child abuse and neglect.
The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), offers the following insights into what the public should know about child abuse:
- Most offenders are known to the child; they may be family members, relatives, friends, teachers, coaches, babysitters, and others in positions of authority.
- Children most susceptible to sexual abuse have obedient, compliant and respectful personalities. They may be children from unhappy or broken homes, as these youngsters may be eager for attention and affection.
- Children who are victims of sexual abuse can display many or few behavioral symptoms. They may withdraw from family or friends, display poor school performance, experience depression, anxiety, or exhibit aggressive and self-destructive behavior. Or they may not display any outward abnormal behavior.
The Florida Department of Children and Families (DCF,) operates the Florida Abuse Hotline 1800-962-2873, around the clock, seven days a week. Florida state law requires that anyone who suspects that a child is being abused or neglected, should make a report either to the hotline or to law enforcement. Failure to report child abuse can result in financial and criminal felony charges.