On Monday, Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam proclaimed April Child Abuse Prevention Month, joining other states and organizations around the country in promoting child abuse awareness and prevention strategies.
“Acts of violence and neglect against children are intolerable,” said Tennessee Department of Children’s Services Commissioner Kathryn O’Day. “It is the collective responsibility of all Tennesseans to keep our children safe, and it can be as simple as lending an ear to a stressed mother or learning to spot the early warning signs of abuse and neglect. Everyone’s participation is critical to prevent child maltreatment and promote optimal child development.”
Child abuse occurs when a child is injured or put at risk of harm as a result of neglect or mistreatment. Abuse includes physical abuse, neglect, sexual abuse or psychological harm. Last year, the Tennessee Department of Children’s Services investigated more than 60,000 reports of child abuse and neglect. Tennessee law requires anyone with direct knowledge or suspicions of child abuse or neglect to report it to the Department of Children’s Services or law enforcement.
Identifying the signs of abuse is the first step in helping an abused or neglected child. Common symptoms include malnutrition; poor hygiene; extremes in behavior; age-inappropriate knowledge of sex; and unexplained bruises, burns or welts.
To report abuse and neglect 24 hours a day, call Tennessee’s child abuse hotline at 1-877-237-0004. When calling, be prepared with the names of the child and the abuser, as well as their relationship and location. For more information on how to prevent child abuse and neglect, click here. For more information on the Tennessee Department of Children’s Services, click here.