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Child Abuse Prevention Strategies

Understand the causes and effects of abuse and neglect. If you know a parent who is under stress, encourage them to seek help. To locate a parenting program that can provide guidance and support, call the Prevention Information and Parent Helpline at 1-800-342-7472; a program of www.preventchildabuseny.org

Twelve Alternatives to Lashing out at Your Child The next time everyday pressures build up to the point where you feel like lashing out — STOP! Try any of these simple alternatives. You’ll feel better… and so will your child.

Twelve Alternatives to Lashing out at Your Child
The next time everyday pressures build up to the point where you feel like lashing out — STOP!
Try any of these simple alternatives. You’ll feel better… and so will your child.

  • Take a deep breath… and another. Then remember you are the adult.
  • Close your eyes and imagine you’re hearing what your child is about to hear.
  • Press your lips together and count to 10… or better yet, to 20.
  • Put your child in a time-out chair (remember this rule: one time-out minute for each year of
    age).
  • Put yourself in a time-out chair. Think about why you are angry: is it your child, or is your
    child simply a convenient target for your anger?
  • Phone a friend.
  • If someone can watch the children, go outside and take a walk.
  • Take a hot bath or splash cold water on your face
  • Hug a pillow.
  • Turn on some music. Maybe even sing along.
  • Pick up a pencil and write down as many helpful words as you can think of. Save the list.
  • Call for prevention information: 1-800-CHILDREN
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What happens when I call the Child Abuse Hotline

A hotline employee will answer your call and ask you for information about why you called. Based on the information you provide, the hotline employee will decide whether to take a report of child abuse or maltreatment. It is helpful if you can give information about who the child is and where he or she can be found; the person who you think abused or maltreated the child; and the child’s parent, guardian or other person legally responsible for the child. If a report is not taken, the hotline employee will tell you why it could not be taken. If you disagree, you can ask to speak with a supervisor.

If a report is taken, it will be sent right away to the local Child Protective Service (CPS), where the child resides. A local CPS caseworker will start an investigation within 24 hours. The CPS caseworker must work with the family on any issues that make the child unsafe. If the family does not want to make the changes needed for a child to be safe, CPS may go to court to ask a judge to require the family to make the changes or to remove the child from the home. However, in most cases, CPS can work with the family to protect the child in his or her home. This is done by making a plan with the child’s parent or caretaker to change any unsafe actions, or to get services so that the child will be safe.

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Who do I call if I think a Child may be Abused or Maltreated?

If a child is in immediate danger, call 911 or your local police department.

As soon as you suspect abuse or maltreatment, you must report your concerns by telephone to the New York Statewide Central Register of Child Abuse and Maltreatment (SCR). The SCR is open 24 hours a day, seven days a week, to receive your call.

The timeliness of your call is vital to the timeliness of intervention by the local department of social services’ Child Protective Services (CPS) unit. You are not required to notify the parents or other persons legally responsible either before or after your call to the SCR. In fact, in some cases, alerting the parent may hinder the local CPS investigation and adversely affect its ability to assess the safety of the children. The telephone numbers to report abuse or maltreatment are:

Mandated Reporter (800) 635-1522

Public Hotline (800) 342-3720

You do not need proof of child abuse or maltreatment to make a report; you only need to think that it has happened or that a child is at risk of being abused or maltreated. Your call to the Child Abuse Hotline is confidential. This means that only certain persons may learn about the information you report. The family you reported will not be told you made the report unless you say it is okay for them to know.

Law Enforcement Referrals: If a call to the SCR provides information about an immediate threat to a child or a crime committed against a child, but the perpetrator is not a parent or other person legally responsible for the child, the SCR staff will make a Law Enforcement Referral (LER). The relevant information will be recorded and

transmitted to the New York State Police Information Network or to the New York City Special Victims Liaison Unit. This is not a CPS report, and local CPS will not be involved.

Mandated Reporter Responsibilities: New York State recognizes that certain professionals are specially equipped to perform the important role of mandated reporter of child abuse and maltreatment. The entire current list can be found in Article 6, Title 6, Section 413 of the New York Social Services Law, which can be accessed online through the New York State Legislature’s Website (http://public.leginfo.state.ny.us/menuf.cgi). Click on Laws of New York to access Social Services Law.

When Am I Mandated to Report?Mandated reporters are required to report suspected child abuse or maltreatment when they are presented with a reasonable cause to suspect child abuse or maltreatment in a situation where a child, parent, or other person legally responsible for the child is before the mandated reporter when the mandated reporter is acting in his or her official or professional capacity.

Reasonable Cause to Suspect: Reasonable cause to suspect child abuse or maltreatment means that, based on your rational observations, professional training and experience, you have a suspicion that the parent or other person legally responsible for a child is responsible for harming that child or placing that child in imminent danger of harm. Your suspicion can be as simple as distrusting an explanation for an injury.

IMMUNITY FROM LIABILITY
If a mandated reporter makes a report with earnest concern for the welfare of a child, he or she is immune from any criminal or civil liability that might result. This is referred to as making a report in “good faith

PENALTIES FOR FAILURE TO REPORT
Anyone who is mandated to report suspected child abuse or maltreatment—and fails to do so—could be charged with a Class A misdemeanor and subject to criminal penalties. Further, mandated reporters can be sued in a civil court for monetary damages for any harm caused by the mandated reporter’s failure to make a report to the SCR.

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What is Child Abuse & Maltreatment

Child abuse and maltreatment is when a parent or other person legally responsible for a child’s care causes or creates a risk of harm to a child. The child must be under the age of 18.  Child abuse involves serious physical harm or sexual abuse. Maltreatment (neglect) involves physical, mental or emotional harm.

Physical abuse is when a parent/caretaker hurts or lets someone else hurt a child physically, or creates a substantial risk that a child will be hurt. There must be a serious injury or a risk of serious injury such as a severe burn, a broken bone, the loss of a body part, an internal injury or death. The injury or risk of injury must not be due to an accident.

Sexual abuse is when a parent or caretaker commits a sexual offense against a child or allows someone else to do this. Sexual abuse includes both touching and non-touching sexual offenses.

  • Examples of touching offenses include: fondling, intercourse, and sodomy (oral or anal sex acts).
  • Examples of non-touching offenses include: using a child in a pornographic or sexually explicit video or picture, distributing such a video or picture, or using a child as a prostitute.

Maltreatment (neglect) is when a parent or caretaker does not provide for a child’s basic needs, where the parent or caretaker has the means or is offered a reasonable way to do so. It also includes a parent or caretaker failing to properly supervise a child or hitting a child too hard. Examples of maltreatment may include: not getting, or waiting too long to get, health care for a child; not giving a child adequate food, shelter, or clothing; not properly looking after a child; misusing drugs/alcohol such that it interferes with their ability to adequately supervise the child; abandoning a child; or not sending a child to school when the child is able to attend school. The parent or caretaker’s actions must cause physical, mental or emotional harm, or a risk that the child will soon be harmed.

Exposure to Domestic Violence: Witnessed domestic violence occurs when a child sees his or her parents or caregivers use behaviors against each other that make the child feel scared, controlled or intimidated

What are some indicators of child abuse and maltreatment? You may see signs of child abuse or maltreatment in the way a child looks or in the way a child acts.

Physical signs can include: a child whose hair, clothing or body is often very dirty; a child whose clothing is too hot or too cold for the season; a child who is not being watched properly; a child who is ill or hurt but is not seeing a doctor; or a child with bruises, burns, cuts, vaginal or rectal bleeding, or with soreness or itching in the genital area.

Behavioral signs can include: a child who is afraid to go home; a child who does not think well of him- or herself, avoids people, or is very sad; a child who misuses drugs or alcohol, has an eating disorder or hurts him- or herself; a child whose mood or behavior changes a lot without a reason; a child who acts in a sexual manner that is unusual for the child’s age; or a child who often misses school without a good reason.

Handling Disclosures: Disclosure can be a very difficult process for a child. Children often tell their stories over a period of time. Some never fully disclose what happened.

  • Find a private place to talk.
  • Believe and support them, stay calm and limit the discussion
  • Tell the child it is not his/her fault.
  • Tell them that you are going to call someone that can help
  • Report the situation immediately.

DON’T:

  • Do not allow contact between the child and the offender
  • Do not confront the offender or discuss the incident with the offender (it is better for a trained law enforcement officer to talk with the offender first)!
  • Do not conduct an investigation
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Warning Signs of Teen Drug Abuse

While experimenting with drugs doesn’t automatically lead to drug abuse, early use is a risk factor for developing more serious drug abuse and addiction. Risk of drug abuse also increases greatly during times of transition, such as changing schools, moving, or divorce. The challenge for parents is to distinguish between the normal, often volatile, ups and downs of the teen years and the red flags of substance abuse. These include:

  • Having bloodshot eyes or dilated pupils; using eye drops to try to mask these signs
  • Skipping class; declining grades; suddenly getting into trouble at school
  • Missing money, valuables, or prescriptions
  • Acting uncharacteristically isolated, withdrawn, angry, or depressed
  • Dropping one group of friends for another; being secretive about the new peer group
  • Loss of interest in old hobbies; lying about new interests and activities
  • Demanding more privacy; locking doors; avoiding eye contact; sneaking around
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Warning Signs of Commonly Abused Drugs

  • Marijuana: Glassy, red eyes; loud talking, inappropriate laughter followed by sleepiness; loss of interest, motivation; weight gain or loss.
  • Depressants (including Xanax, Valium, GHB): Contracted pupils; drunk-like; difficulty concentrating; clumsiness; poor judgment; slurred speech; sleepiness.
  • Stimulants (including amphetamines, cocaine, crystal meth): Dilated pupils; hyperactivity; euphoria; irritability; anxiety; excessive talking followed by depression or excessive sleeping at odd times; may go long periods of time without eating or sleeping; weight loss; dry mouth and nose.
  • Inhalants (glues, aerosols, vapors): Watery eyes; impaired vision, memory and thought; secretions from the nose or rashes around the nose and mouth; headaches and nausea; appearance of intoxication; drowsiness; poor muscle control; changes in appetite; anxiety; irritability; lots of cans/aerosols in the trash.
  • Hallucinogens (LSD, PCP): Dilated pupils; bizarre and irrational behavior including paranoia, aggression, hallucinations; mood swings; detachment from people; absorption with self or other objects, slurred speech; confusion.
  • Heroin: Contracted pupils; no response of pupils to light; needle marks; sleeping at unusual times; sweating; vomiting; coughing, sniffling; twitching; loss of appetite.
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Warning signs that a friend of family member is Abusing Drugs

Drug abusers often try to conceal their symptoms and downplay their problem. If you’re worried that a friend or family member might be abusing drugs, look for the following warning signs:

Physical warning signs of drug abuse

  • Bloodshot eyes, pupils larger or smaller than usual
  • Changes in appetite or sleep patterns.
  • Sudden weight loss or weight gain
  • Deterioration of physical appearance, personal grooming habits
  • Unusual smells on breath, body, or clothing
  • Tremors, slurred speech, or impaired coordination

Behavioral signs of drug abuse

  • Drop in attendance and performance at work or school
  • Unexplained need for money or financial problems. May borrow or steal to get it.
  • Engaging in secretive or suspicious behaviors
  • Sudden change in friends, favorite hangouts, and hobbies
  • Frequently getting into trouble (fights, accidents, illegal activities)

Psychological warning signs of drug abuse

  • Unexplained change in personality or attitude
  • Sudden mood swings, irritability, or angry outbursts
  • Periods of unusual hyperactivity, agitation, or giddiness
  • Lack of motivation; appears lethargic or “spaced out”
  • Appears fearful, anxious, or paranoid, with no reason
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When your Teen has a Drinking Problem

Discovering your child is drinking can generate fear, confusion, and anger in parents. It’s important to remain calm when confronting your teen, and only do so when everyone is sober. Explain your concerns and make it clear that your concern comes from a place of love. It’s important that your teen feels you are supportive. 
Five steps parents can take:

  • Lay down rules and consequences: Your teen should understand that drinking alcohol comes with specific consequences. But don’t make hollow threats or set rules that you cannot enforce. Make sure your spouse agrees with the rules and is prepared to enforce them.
  • Monitor your teen’s activity: Know where your teen goes and who he or she hangs out with. Remove or lock away alcohol from your home and routinely check potential hiding places for alcohol—in backpacks, under the bed, between clothes in a drawer, for example. Explain to your teen that this lack of privacy is a consequence of him or her having been caught using alcohol.
  • Encourage other interests and social activities. Expose your teen to healthy hobbies and activities, such as team sports, Scouts, and afterschool clubs.
  • Talk to your child about underlying issues. Drinking can be the result of other problems. Is your child having trouble fitting in? Has there been a recent major change, like a move or divorce, which is causing stress?

Get outside help: You don’t have to go it alone. Teenagers often rebel against their parents but if they hear the same information from a different authority figure, they may be more inclined to listen. Try seeking help from a sports coach, family doctor, therapist, or counselor.

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How to help a Loved one with Alcoholism or Alcohol Abuse and what not to do.

If someone you love has a drinking problem, you may be struggling with a number of painful emotions, including shame, fear, anger, and self-blame. The problem may be so overwhelming that it seems easier to ignore it and pretend that nothing is wrong. But in the long run denying it will be more damaging to you, other family members, and the person with the drinking problem.

WHAT NOT TO DO

  • Don’t attempt to punish, threaten, bribe, or preach.
  • Don’t try to be a martyr. Avoid emotional appeals that may only increase feelings of guilt and the compulsion to drink or use other drugs.
  • Don’t cover up or make excuses for the alcoholic or problem drinker or shield them from the realistic consequences of their behavior.
  • Don’t take over their responsibilities, leaving them with no sense of importance or dignity.
  • Don’t hide or dump bottles, throw out drugs, or shelter them from situations where alcohol is present.
  • Don’t argue with the person when they are impaired.
  • Don’t try to drink along with the problem drinker.
  • Above all, don’t feel guilty or responsible for another’s behavior.
  • Adapted from: National Clearinghouse for Alcohol & Drug Information
  • You cannot force someone you love to stop abusing alcohol. As much as you may want to, and as hard as it is to watch, you cannot make someone stop drinking. The choice is up to them.
  • Don’t expect the person to stop drinking and stay sober without help. Your loved one will need treatment, support, and new coping skills to overcome a serious drinking problem.
  • Recovery is an ongoing process. Recovery is a bumpy road, requiring time and patience. An alcoholic will not magically become a different person once sober. And the problems that led to the alcohol abuse in the first place will have to be faced.
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What are the Common signs & Symptoms of Alcohol Abuse?

  • Repeatedly neglecting your responsibilities at home, work, or school because of your drinking. For example, performing poorly at work, flunking classes, neglecting your kids, or skipping out on commitments because you’re hung over.
  • Using alcohol in situations where it’s physically dangerous, such as drinking and driving, operating machinery while intoxicated, or mixing alcohol with prescription medication against doctor’s orders.
  • Experiencing repeated legal problems on account of your drinking. For example, getting arrested for driving under the influence or for drunk and disorderly conduct.
  • Continuing to drink even though your alcohol use is causing problems in your relationships. Getting drunk with your buddies, for example, even though you know your wife will be very upset, or fighting with your family because they dislike how you act when you drink.
  • Drinking as a way to relax or de-stress. Many drinking problems start when people use alcohol to self-soothe and relieve stress. Getting drunk after every stressful day, for example, or reaching for a bottle every time you have an argument with your spouse or boss.