WITF The Spark: 58 kids died from abuse in Pennsylvania in a year’s time; What can be done to prevent it?

There were five thousand thirty six cases of child abuse in Pennsylvania in one year. That included 58 children who died from abuse.

April is National Child Abuse Awareness Prevention Month.

The Pennsylvania Family Support Alliance’s mission is to prevent child abuse and protect kids from harm, and that includes neglect.

Angela Liddle, President and CEO of the Pennsylvania Family Support Alliance was on The Spark Monday and was asked why child abuse keeps happening,”Sexual abuse remains the largest category of abuse. The perpetrators, the vast majority, remain the parents. Moms and dads who spend the most amount of time with kids who are responsible for them. And all we can really say The truth is everything in our society right has become almost more concerning. You think about gun violence, you think about what’s happening in our schools. You think about the mental health issues that people are dealing with. And I’m not saying it’s all because of the pandemic. I’m saying we’ve been on this trend now for quite some time. And when stress escalates, throw in factors of the economy, worst inflation we’ve seen in probably our lifetime. And we remember the seventies. Right. But think about that. Think about housing. Think about all of those things. Converge and come together on a family. And it’s really the only thing we can come up with because what is another reason for it?”

Christina Roland, Director of Intake Services for Cumberland County Children and Youth Services addressed whether there are typical cases of abuse,”Abuse goes across all socio-economic families and that is a fact. Families experience different, I think, stressors in their lives in just different categories and different kinds of things. But so I can’t say that it’s typical, but we do see a lot of children experiencing neglect in households where the again, the lack of mental health resources and the opioid epidemic have been really (present).”

Liddle talked about when an observer or neighbor should report child abuse,”If you believe a child in your midst is truly, truly not safe, that they’re being harmed. And that kind of sticks with you in your gut. Maybe it’s that you see them a combination of things because it’s never just one thing. You have to look at kind of the totality of the circumstances. A child who very clearly is maybe not having adequate food. So food scarcity is an issue. Things like that, by all means, try to get to know your neighbors and try to connect them to resources in the community. Every community has resources. But if you truly believe that a child is being harmed, they’re being beaten. They’re being really totally unsupervised in very dangerous situations. Then by all means, you call Childline and you can do that as a concerned citizen with complete anonymity. So you call 1-800-932-0313. If you’re a mandated reporter, you by law must report suspected child abuse again to Childline at 1-800-932-0313.”

From WITF The Spark, April 10, 2023

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