Posted on Sep 14th 2021
According to the National Children’s Alliance (NCA) “15-20 percent of girls and 5-10 percent of boys in the United States are affected by child sexual abuse.” Those numbers are staggering and likely made you sit up a bit in your chair.
While organizations like the Salt Lake County Children’s Justice Center play an essential role in responding to cases of serious abuse that can happen to children and teenagers, there are things that we can do at all levels - individual, family, and community - to create a community where it is safe for children to speak up and receive expert help to recover from their experiences.
Here’s how you can help!
Understand Child Abuse And The Signs
A child who's being abused may feel guilty, ashamed or confused. He or she may be afraid to tell anyone about the abuse, especially if the abuser is a parent, other relative or family friend (Mayo Clinic). That's why it's vital to watch for red flags, such as:
- Withdrawal from friends or usual activities
- Changes in behavior - such as agression, hostility, or hyperactivity - or changes in school performance
- Depression, anxiety or unusual fears, or a sudden loss of self-confidence
- Reluctance to leave school activities, as if he or she doesn't want to go home
- Attempts at running away
- Self-harm or attempts at suicide
Specific signs and symptoms depend on the type of abuse and can vary. Keep in mind that warning signs are just that - warning signs. The presence of warning signs doesn't necessarily mean that a child is being abused.
If you’re ever unsure, reach out to the Salt Lake County Children’s Justice Center (CJC) for guidance.
Encourage Children to Speak Up
Children have a right to feel safe and share when they feel uncomfortable. Encourage the children in your life to speak up if anybody says or does anything that threatens their feelings of safety.
In Utah, if anyone witnesses or suspects child abuse, they are obligated to report it to the authorities or it may be a misdemeanor. If a child tells you they have been abused, listen, affirm that the child did the right thing by speaking up, and immediately contact your local police department or local child protective services department.
Support the Salt Lake County Children’s Justice Center
This award-winning program provides a safe space for child victims of crime to share their story and seek hope, healing, and justice. CJC interventions ensure that children and teenagers receive the help they need to feel safe again.