Child Abuse prevention month: Abuse teams on call

April 13, 2011

Children of the mid-Columbia who might be experiencing abuse have someone working diligently on their behalf.

The Columbia Gorge Children's Advocacy Center is here to help.

"Incidents of child abuse are on the rise. In 2009, over 28,000 reports of child abuse were investigated in Oregon," said Debi Baskins, executive director of the CGCAC.

Working in conjunction with the Hood River County Multi-Disciplinary Team - a state-mandated child abuse response team - CGCAC provides help investigating cases as well as locating treatment and advising on outcomes.

In addition, the CGCAC works with local medical professionals and agencies to ensure that the appropriate referrals are made for additional services to victims and their families.

What is child abuse and neglect?

Child abuse and neglect often take place in the home and involve a person the child knows well - a parent, relative, baby sitter or friend of the family.

There are different types of child maltreatment. And, although any of the forms may be found separately, they often occur together.

Neglect

Failure to provide for a child's basic needs: shelter, food, clothing, supervision and medical care.

Physical abuse

Physical injury as a result of hitting, kicking, shaking, burning or otherwise harming a child.

Sexual abuse

Any situation where a child is used for sexual gratification. This may include indecent exposure, inappropriate touching, sexual contact or commercial exploitation through prostitution or the production of pornographic materials.

Protecting children from abuse begins with understanding what a sign of abuse looks like in a child.

The following list of simple red flags may indicate a child is being abused:

A change in behavior. Suddenly, for no reason, the child becomes withdrawn or aggressive or starts getting in trouble in school

Unexplained anger or rebellion, drop in school grades, truancy or runaway behavior

Nightmares, night tremors

Unexplained bruises, burns or welts

A child who is fearful of going somewhere with a particular adult

Cruelty to animals or fire setting

A child who begins wetting or soiling himself long after he has been potty trained

Children who are acting out sexually and demonstrating knowledge about things that are not appropriate for their age. This is really true for younger children.

Use of alcohol or drugs

"If you suspect a child is being abused call DHS or law enforcement right away," said Baskins.

Oregon state law mandates that workers in certain professions must make reports if they have reasonable cause to suspect abuse or neglect.

Mandated reporters include: medical personnel, school and child-care personnel, public employees and law enforcement personnel, members of the clergy, attorneys, firefighters, CASA volunteers, counselors and therapists.

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