Know the Signs to Help Prevent Child Abuse

April is National Child Abuse Prevention Month marking a time for our community to come together to share resources and advocate for the well-being of our children. In Indiana, five children die from abuse every month. Nationally, five children die every day from abuse and neglect. Learning how to spot signs of abuse and sharing prevention resources will allow children and families to thrive leading to brighter futures and healthier communities.

At Meridian Health Services our mission is to create healthier communities through a focus on “whole-person” health. We work closely with schools, physicians, the juvenile justice system, and state agencies to help strengthen Indiana families through community and home-based services. A testament to our dedication to serving children and families is the Suzanne Gresham Center in Muncie which provides treatment for children facing issues of abuse, neglect, substance use, behavioral issues, and social challenges.

Within the Gresham Center is the Child Advocacy Center, a nationally recognized program where community law enforcement and legal teams conduct interviews and investigations of children who have experienced trauma from abuse or other harmful situations in a manner that is considerate and protective of the child. Being able to pursue reports of child abuse in this caring environment has led to higher prosecution rates of abusers.

Our experts at the Child Advocacy Center compiled a list of signs to watch for. Abuse may be occurring if a child…

  • Shows sudden changes in behavior or school performance
  • Has not received help for physical or medical problems brought to the parents’ attention
  • Has learning problems, or difficulty concentrating that cannot be attributed to specific physical or psychological causes
  • Is always watchful, as though preparing for something bad to happen
  • Seems to always lack adult supervision
  • Has unexplained burns, bites, bruises, broken bones, or black eyes
  • Has fading bruises or other marks noticeable after absence from school
  • Seems frightened of their parent or caregiver and protests or cries when it is time to go home from a playdate, from school, or another outside activity
  • Abuses animals or pets

If you notice any of these signs of abuse or believe abuse may be occurring, please call 911 in an emergency or call the Indiana Child Abuse Hotline at 1-800-800-5556.

Children in our state make up 20 percent of the population. One in five are children! And they often live in difficult, event tragic conditions. It’s vital for communities to understand and know the signs that abuse may be happening. This April, we encourage you to educate and advocate for our most vulnerable population.