It’s hard to imagine someone intentionally hurting a child. Yet KidsHealth.org reports that nearly 1 million children are abused every year in the United States alone. This staggering figure reflects only confirmed cases of child abuse. Kids Health says, “many more cases are unreported and undetected, often because children are afraid to tell somebody who can help.” A Mentor could be that somebody; listening and empathy are always the correct first response.
While each state may define what constitutes as child abuse slightly differently, the Child Abuse Prevention and Treatment Act defines child abuse as, “Any recent act or failure to act on the part of a parent or caretaker which results in death, serious physical or emotional harm, sexual abuse or exploitation.” Texas law requires that, “A person having cause to believe that a child’s physical or mental health or welfare has been adversely affected by abuse or neglect by any person shall immediately make a report [to Child Protective Services].”
Each case of child abuse is different, and each child affected will respond to this trauma in a unique way. Depending on the child, the family dynamic, and the degree of the abuse, some children might not show signs of trauma at all. This makes it imperative to believe a child if an outcry occurs.
Seedling has experienced very few cases where mentors felt compelled to report a case of possible abuse. If it does occur, Mentors are not alone as they consider what they have seen or heard from their mentee and should not hesitate to contact their Mentor Directors to process the information, their feelings, or plan of action. And if in doubt, always err on the side of child safety.
For more information about child abuse or neglect, please call you Mentor Director.
- Department of Family and Protective Services
- Free training provided by the Center for Child Protection