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WHAT YOU CAN DO

If your child, or any child, tells you that he or she has been abused, one of the most important things you can do is respond in a calm manner.  Listen to the words and feelings of the child, and observe his or her body language. Try to find out what happened, and reassure the child that he or she has done nothing wrong.

Let the child know that you will do whatever you can to keep him or her safe. It is better for you not to handle the situation on your own. Your community has resources that can help you and /or the child through this difficult time. Child abuse is against the law, so it is important to seek professional help and not intervene alone.

Parents have an obligation to keep their children safe and protect them whenever possible. If a family or household member or third party has been abusing your child, it is your responsibility to seek immediate medical attention for the child and make sure that the child is out of physical and emotional danger.

The abuse should be reported to either local child protective services or law enforcement. On receiving your information, these authorities will determine the appropriate course of action. A parent who knows his or her child is abused but fails to respond can be held accountable under child protection laws for failing to protect the child.

Children experience the same emotional reactions as adults and can experience posttraumatic stress disorder Trauma in children can take years to manifest; therefore, it is important that victims of child abuse receive Counseling as soon as possible after the abuse is disclosed.

Victims of child abuse may feel that they are bad and deserve the abuse. They usually have poor self esteem. In addition to physical injuries that may be the result of abuse, child victims may develop eating disorders or sleep disturbances, including nightmares.

They may develop speech disorders or developmental lags in their motor skills. Many child victims demonstrate some form of self-destructive behavior. They may develop physical illnesses, such as asthma, ulcers, severe allergies, or recurring headaches.   Also, they often experience irrational and persistent fears or hatreds and demonstrate either passive or aggressive behavioral extremes.

Children who have been abused need caring adults to help them recognize that they are not responsible for the violence in their homes and to help them find ways to grow past their present trauma into healthy adults. Caring adults must help abused children avoid a cycle of learned abusive patterns by teaching and modeling nonviolent methods of conflict resolution and helping them express their feelings in healthy ways.