Child abuse and neglect affects countless families across the country, regardless of geography, ethnicity, or income. National Child Abuse Prevention Month recognizes the importance of families and communities working together to strengthen families to prevent child abuse and neglect.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), at least 1 in 7 children have experienced child abuse and/or neglect in the past year, and this is likely an underestimate. In 2019, 1,840 children died of abuse and neglect in the United States.
What is Child Abuse?
According to Prevent Child Abuse Pennsylvania, child abuse is intentionally, knowingly, or recklessly doing any of the following:
- Causing bodily injury to a child through any recent act or failure to act.
- Fabricating, feigning, or intentionally exaggerating or inducing a medical symptom or disease which results in a potentially harmful medical evaluation or treatment to the child through any recent act.
- Causing or substantially contributing to serious mental injury to a child through any act or failure to act or a series of such acts or failures to act.
- Causing sexual abuse or exploitation of a child through any act or failure to act.
- Creating a reasonable likelihood of bodily injury to a child through any recent act or failure to act.
- Creating a likelihood of sexual abuse or exploitation of a child through any recent act or failure to act.
- Causing serious physical neglect of a child.
- Causing the death of the child through any act or failure to act.
- Engaging a child in a severe form of trafficking in persons or sex trafficking, as those terms are defined under section 103 of the Trafficking Victims Protection Act of 2000 (114 Stat. 1466, 22 U.S.C. § 7102 ).
Child abuse also includes certain acts in which the act itself constitutes abuse without any resulting injury or condition. These recent acts include any of the following:
- Kicking, biting, throwing, burning, stabbing, or cutting a child in a manner that endangers the child.
- Unreasonably restraining or confining a child, based on consideration of the method, location or the duration of the restraint or confinement.
- Forcefully shaking a child under one year of age.
- Forcefully slapping or otherwise striking a child under one year of age.
- Interfering with the breathing of a child.
- Causing a child to be present during the operation of a methamphetamine laboratory, provided that the violation is being investigated by law enforcement.
- Leaving a child unsupervised with an individual, other than the child's parent, who the parent knows or reasonably should have known was required to register as a Tier II or III sexual offender or has been determined to be a sexually violent predator or sexually violent delinquent.
"Recent" is defined as an abusive act within two years from the date the report is made to ChildLine. Sexual abuse, serious mental injury, serious physical neglect, and deaths have no time limit.
How We Can Help
Family Services of NW PA provides an array of services designed to ensure that children are safe and that families have the necessary support to care for their children.
We are proud to offer the following services to support children and families:
- Adoption Services provides child placement services that help both children and families, including adoption searches, child profiles, child preparation, home studies, and post-permanency services.
- Brief Services helps at-risk families cope with problems and improve childcare practices.
- Family Group Decision Making draws on the strengths of the family unit to develop a plan addressing concerns related to child safety, well-bring, and overall development.
- Family Preservation Services help strengthen the families of children at risk of placement by improving family functioning and preventing unnecessary placement of children.
- Family Reunification helps families that have had children removed from the home to achieve safe reunification.
- Family Team Meetings help engage families and find solutions for both immediate and long-term needs related to safety, well-being, and permanency.
- Foster Care Services help children who need temporary care find a stable, loving home.
- Independent Living Program helps youth ages 14-21 years old who are in out-of-home placement to make the transition to become independent, self-sufficient, and productive adults.
- Intensive Family provides crisis intervention and family treatment to keep children and families safe prevent out-of-home placement and assist in family reunification.
- Kinship Care Services help facilitate the placement of children in the custody of a County Children and Youth agency into the home of a relative or other significant adult.
To learn more about Child Welfare Programs offered at Family Services of NW PA, click the links above or call 1-800-634-2560.
- Child Abuse Facts and Prevention in Pennsylvania (PA Family Support Alliance)
- National Child Abuse Prevention Month Website (Child Welfare Information Gateway)
- Preventing Child Abuse and Neglect (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention)
- Keep Kids Safe (Pennsylvania Department of Human Services)
- Child Abuse Prevention Month (National Society for the Positive Care of Children)