Noticing the signs of child abuse and how to take action

If you suspect abuse, your report could save a child’s life

April is Child Abuse Prevention Month—an opportunity to step up and educate friends, families, and neighbors about child abuse and neglect and how we, individually and collectively, can help prevent it.

In Bexar County, 19 children died due to abuse and neglect last year, according to Child Advocates SA (CASA).

In Texas over the past 10 years, children 3 years and younger were almost 80% of all confirmed child abuse and neglect fatalities, CASA officials said. This number only includes children who were identified by DFPS with abuse and neglect being the direct cause of death.

This is the second year in a row that Bexar County has seen an increase in the number of children who died from abuse and neglect, CASA officials said.

There are ways to help prevent child abuse.

  • Examine your behavior. Abuse is not just physical. Use your actions and words to show children and other adults that conflicts can be settled without hitting or yelling.
  • Know the signs of abuse. Unexplained injuries aren’t the only signs of abuse. Depression, difficulty trusting others, inappropriate sexual behavior, poor hygiene, and hostility can be signs of a family in crisis and may indicate a child is being neglected or abused.
  • Check-in with families in your circles and offer support for stressed parents.

If someone notices these signs and has a concern, they should make a report to the DFPS Child Abuse Hotline at 1-800-252-5400. A report can be made anonymously, and if you suspect abuse, your report could save a child’s life.

For those interested in making a difference, you can volunteer to become a CASA Advocate. Advocates provide constancy and support for children and youth who have experienced abuse and neglect.

A child advocate is appointed by a judge to be an independent voice in court for a child who has experienced abuse and/or neglect. The advocate provides the judge with a carefully researched background of the child to help the court make a sound decision about the child’s future.

To learn more about Child Advocates SA and volunteer opportunities, you can visit CASA’s website.