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April is National Child Abuse Prevention Month. It should be 12 months out of the year, not just April, especially when you see the statistics provided by the Illinois Department of Child and Family Services (DCFS). According to their website, the DCFS receives, investigates and acts upon a report of child abuse or neglect every five minutes, child sex abuse every two hours, and the death of a child by abuse or neglect every day and a half.

Tens of thousands of children are safer thanks to those who call the Child Abuse Hotline at 1-800-252-2873 each year. Again, according to DCFS unfortunately up to 80 percent of abuse and neglect goes unreported, and one in five Illinois children is abused before the age of 18.

According to county statistics from 2012, there were 1261 children abused or neglected in Adams County which equates to 57 children out of every 1000 children in the county. Those numbers are 1261 to many. Unfortunately, this trend is not reversing so the numbers for 2013 will probably be higher.

So just what constitutes child abuse and neglect?  According to the DCFS, child abuse is the mistreatment of a child under the age of 18 by:

  • a parent or their romantic partner;
  • an immediate relative or someone living in their home;
  • a caretaker such as a babysitter or daycare worker;
  • any person responsible for the child’s welfare, such as a health care provider, educator, coach or youth program volunteer.

The mistreatment can either result in injury or put the child at serious risk of injury. Child abuse can be physical (i.e. bruises or broken bones), sexual (i.e. fondling or incest), or mental (emotional injury or psychological illness).

Neglect is the failure of a parent or caretaker to meet “minimal parenting” standards for providing adequate supervision, food, clothing, medical care, shelter or other basic needs.

To report child abuse or neglect contact the hotline number of 1-800-252-2873.