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Identifying, reporting, and preventing child abuse and neglect


Navigating the Child Welfare System Identifying, reporting, and preventing child abuse and neglect Nanette Bishop, MBS, LPC, LADC Administration for Children and ... – PowerPoint PPT presentation

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Title: Identifying, reporting, and preventing child abuse and neglect

Identifying, reporting, and preventing child
abuse and neglect
Navigating the Child Welfare System
Nanette Bishop, MBS, LPC,
LADC Administration for Children and
Families, Region VI

The Plan
  • Introductions
  • What do you want to learn while youre here?
  • Activity
  • Costs and national overview
  • Risk factors
  • Types of abuse and typical signs
  • Reporting requirements, legal and ethical, while
    supporting the child
  • Reporting how tos
  • The Real World audiences experiences
  • What happens after a report is made
  • Prevention The Cutting Edge
  • QA

Costs of Child Abuse and Neglect
  • An estimated 906,000 children were victims of
    child abuse or neglect in 2003.
  • Physical health
  • Injuries directly caused by abuse those
  • Shaken baby syndrome leads to blindness, learning
    disabilities, mental retardation, cerebral palsy,
  • Psychological problems can result in high-risk
    behaviors. For example, depression/anxiety may
    result in increased sexual activity, smoking,
    alcohol/drug abuse, or overeating, which can lead
    to sexually transmitted diseases, cancer, heart
    disease, obesity, and other diseases.
  • Mental, emotional, intellectual, behavioral
  • Impaired brain, cognitive, and language
    development and functioning, academic
    achievement, and social functioning
  • A wide range of psychiatric disorders
    (depression, anxiety, ADHD, PTSD, etc)
  • Delinquency, teen pregnancy, drug use,
    incarceration, etc...
  • Societal Costs
  • Direct An estimated 24 billion per year
    (Prevent Child Abuse America, 2001)
  • Indirect An estimated 69 billion per year
    (Prevent Child Abuse America, 2001)
  • Fifty percent of investigated reports come from
    professionals just like you.

The Federal Child Protection Law CAPTA (The
Child Abuse Prevention and Treatment Act)
  • Purpose and Goals
  • Federal Law first enacted in 1974 amended most
    recently in 2003.
  • To improve prevention, identification,
    investigation, and treatment of child
  • Defines a minimum standard of child abuse and
    neglect that States use as a foundation to
    specify their own definitions.
  • Requires certain professionals, as specified by
    each State, to report suspected child
    abuse/neglect to the State agency.
  • Two major programs are funded through CAPTA
  • CAPTA general program State CPS agencies
    administer CAPTA.
  • Community Based Child Abuse Prevention (CBCAP)
    Focused on preventing child maltreatment. Can be
    run by the State CPS agency OR a separate agency
    chosen by the governor.

CAPTAminimum standard definition of child
  • Any recent act or failure to act on the part of a
    parent or caretaker which results in death,
    serious physical or emotional harm, sexual abuse
    and exploitation or
  • An act or failure to act which presents an
    imminent risk of serious harm
  • (States take it from there)

Risk Factors
  • Child Risk Factors
  • Birth Premature, low birth weight, disabilities,
    exposure to toxins in utero,
  • Older Difficult to warm up, aggression,
    behavior problems, attention deficits
  • Physical/cognitive/emotional disability, chronic
    or serious illness, trauma
  • Age, anti-social peer group
  • Parental/Family Risk Factors
  • External locus of control, unwanted pregnancy,
    unrealistic expectations about child development,
    poor parent-child interaction, negative attitudes
    about child's behavior
  • Psychopathology, poor impulse control, substance
    abuse, depression, anxiety, insecurity
  • Stressful life events, low tolerance for
  • Abused as children, lack of trust
  • High conflict, domestic violence, divorce
    (especially high conflict divorce)
  • Young, unsupported, single parent, high number of
    children in household, isolation
  • Social/Environmental Risk Factors
  • Poverty (the most frequently and persistently
    noted risk factor of all)
  • Unemployment, homelessness, dangerous/violent
  • Lack of medical care, health insurance, adequate
    child care, and social services
  • Poor schools, environmental toxins,

What is Neglect?
  • Failure to provide for a childs needs. We need
    to be careful, however. Cultural values,
    standards of care in the community, and poverty
    may contribute to what we may or may not
    personally consider neglect.
  • Neglect comprises over 50 of all reports
  • Types of neglect include
  • Physical lack of food, shelter, supervision
  • Medical medical or mental health treatment
  • Educational (including special education needs)
  • Emotional Lack of parental attention and
    guidance, permitting a child to use alcohol or
  • Typical signs of neglect in a child
  • Appears malnourished, begs, steals, or hoards
  • Has poor hygiene, matted hair, dirty skin, severe
    body odor
  • Unattended medical or physical problems
  • Says that no one is home to care for them
  • Child or caretaker abuses drugs or alcohol

What is Physical Abuse?
  • Physical injury ranging from minor bruises to
    severe fractures or death as a result of any
    method or harm, including
  • Slapping
  • Hitting
  • Choking
  • Burning
  • Punching
  • Beating
  • Kicking
  • Shaking
  • Throwing
  • Stabbing
  • Biting
  • Others?
  • These injuries are considered abuse whether or
    not the caretaker meant to hurt the child.
  • Physical abuse comprises around 25 of all
  • Typical signs include (especially in various
    stages of healing)
  • Broken bones, unexplained bruises, burns, welts
  • Child cannot explain an injury OR explanations
    given by the child or caretaker are not
    consistent with the injury
  • Child is unusually frightened by a caretaker or
    is afraid to go home
  • Child reports intentional injury by caretaker

What is Sexual Abuse?
  • Includes activities by a parent or caretaker such
  • Fondling a childs genitals
  • Penetration
  • Exploitation through prostitution or pornographic
  • Rape
  • Incest
  • Sodomy
  • Indecent exposure
  • Sexual abuse comprises around 11 of all reports
  • Typical signs of sexual abuse in a child
  • Pain or bleeding in anal or genital area, often
    with redness or swelling, pregnancy, sexually
    transmitted diseases
  • Age-inappropriate play with toys, self, or others
  • Inappropriate knowledge about sex
  • Child reports sexual abuse

What is Emotional Abuse?
  • A pattern of behavior by a caretaker that impairs
    a childs emotional development or sense of self
  • Almost always present when other forms are
  • Often difficult to prove and CPS may not be able
    to intervene without evidence of harm.
  • Comprises around 3 of all reports
  • Typical signs of emotional abuse include
  • Caretaker constantly criticizes, threatens,
    belittles, insults, or rejects child
  • Caretaker withholds love, support, or guidance
  • Child exhibits extremes in behavior from overly
    aggressive to overly passive
  • Child displays delayed physical, emotional, or
    intellectual development

Reporting Legalities and Ethics
  • Most medical personnel, law enforcement,
    educators, social service providers and child
    care providers are bound by professional ethics
    and/or State law to report suspected child
  • Eighteen States require every citizen to report
    it regardless of their profession.
  • Know your States laws (handout) and your
    professional organizations ethical requirements
  • Reporting abuse or neglect frequently becomes an
    ethical dilemma due to complex and conflicting
    ethical requirements. Breaching confidentiality
    and breaking the law both constitute unethical
  • Regardless of potential professional
    difficulties, caring adults must intervene on
    behalf of children who may be suffering from
    abuse or neglect. Remember over fifty percent
    of all investigated reports come from

Reporting Child Maltreatment
  • Contact your State or Local CPS office. In some
    States, you can file a report online. Not all
    States have one hotline. Some are not open 24
    hours. Some do not work outside the State.
  • The National Child Abuse Hotline can provide the
    most updated reporting contact info 24/7 if you
    cannot locate it. Visit or
    call 1-800-4-A-CHILD
  • Have the following information ready as much as
  • Childs name and location
  • Suspected perpetrators name and relationship to
    the child
  • A description of what you saw or heard
  • Names of any other people who may know about the
  • Your name and phone number
  • Names of reporters are not disclosed, but your
    identity may become known to the family during
    the course of the investigation. Discussing this
    with involved parties up front is best.
  • The best way to protect yourself and your clients
    is to tell them when you first meet them that you
    must report any abuse you may suspect. To
    formalize this agreement, provide it in writing
    and have them sign it.

The Real WorldOur Experiences with Child Abuse
and Neglect
What happens after I make a report?
  • Screened by CPS staff. Enough credible
    information to indicate maltreatment or risk
    referred to an investigator
  • Investigated within a specific time period,
    prioritized based on potential severity
  • Investigator may interview child, family,
    teachers, childcare workers, doctors, or others
  • IF the investigator believes the States standard
    for abuse/neglect has not been met, the case will
    be closed. The family may or may not be referred
    elsewhere for services.
  • IF the investigator believes the child is at risk
    of harm, the family may be referred to services
    to reduce the risk of harm including
  • Mental health care
  • Medical care
  • Parenting skills classes
  • Employment assistance
  • Financial or housing assistance
  • In some cases where the childs safety cannot be
    ensured, the child may be removed from the home
    and placed in a foster home while the agency
    works further with the caretakers.

Prevention Protective Factors to Build On
  • Child Protective Factors
  • Good health, development, and self-esteem, social
    skills/peer relationships, intelligence
  • Hobbies and interests
  • Easy temperament, positive disposition,
  • Internal locus of control, active coping style,
    balance between help seeking and autonomy
  • Parental/Family Protective Factors
  • Secure attachment to family positive, stable,
    warm, supportive parent-child-family
  • Household rules/structure parental monitoring,
    expectations of pro-social behavior
  • Extended family support and involvement,
    including care giving help
  • Parents have a model of competence and good
    coping skills, high parental education
  • Social/Environmental Protective Factors
  • Mid to high socioeconomic status
  • Access to health care, adequate housing, social
  • Consistent parental employment
  • Family religious faith participation
  • Good schools
  • Supportive adults outside of family who serve as
    role models/mentors to child

Child Abuse/Neglect Prevention The Cutting Edge
Primary Stop it before it starts, for
everyone Secondary Stop it before it starts, for
families considered at risk Tertiary It
happened, but lets stop it from happening again
  • Common features of effective prevention programs
  • Strengthen family and community
    connections/support systems
  • Approach parents as important contributors to
    their childs development
  • Create opportunities for parents to be successful
    and feel empowered
  • Respect every familys integrity
  • Provide settings where families can gather,
    support and learn from each other
  • Enhance coordination and integration of supports
    and services
  • Enhance community awareness of the importance of
    healthy parenting
  • Ensure round the clock support (such as hotlines)
  • Evening and weekend hours, meeting in familys
    home (home visitors)
  • Current Best Practice Examples
  • Nurse Home Visiting
  • http//
  • The Front Porch Project
  • http//

Questions and Answers