Awareness is a Step Toward Child Abuse Prevention

Awareness is a Step Toward Child Abuse Prevention

Abuse can be physical, emotional, sexual or stem from the neglect of a child's most basic needs.

Written by Beth Phillips

More than 1,500 South Plains children were abused in 2010, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

More than 1,500 South Plains children were abused in 2010, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

National attention has increasingly been focusing on family violence, since one in four children are exposed to family violence in his or her lifetime, according to the U.S. Department of Justice.

Advocacy has broadened across legal and political arenas to include activities that support individuals, families, communities and issues that may be of concern to us all, like child abuse.

In 2011, 231 Texas children died from abuse or neglect, according to the Family Guidance and Outreach Center of Lubbock. Child abuse includes physical abuse, sexual abuse, emotional abuse and/or neglect.

“It is clearly a public health issue, so finding ways to strengthen families to promote a reduction in child abuse and neglect has been at the center of many national studies and programs,” said Lisa Dillard, MSN, R.N., School of Nursing Nurse-Family Partnership supervisor.

Dillard has been a Court Appointed Special Advocate for six years, and is also a member of the South Plains Child Abuse Prevention Coalition. She encourages nurses and other health care professionals to increase child abuse awareness.

“Recognizing that child maltreatment has a negative effect on a child’s growth and development, and the effects carry into adulthood and can impair health for years to come, are warning signs we can’t ignore,” Dillard said.

Warning signs of child abuse may include extremes in behavior, detachment from the parent or caregiver, frequent unexplained injuries, frequent tardiness or absences at school and running away from home.

The Nurse-Family Partnership is committed to recognizing and reporting child abuse, Dillard said. The program has the capacity to reduce child abuse among first-time families by 50 percent.

Nurses in the program are trained to help first-time families anticipate factors like lack of parenting skills, alcohol and drug abuse, stress and lack of support, that may result in child abuse and provide young parents with resources and advocacy to make their homes safe places to raise children.

“Advocating for effective prevention programs is the key to reducing child abuse cases,” Dillard said. “Local, state and federal funds are needed to invest in prevention programs, as there is no excuse for child abuse.”


Story produced by the Office of Communications and Marketing, (806) 743-2143.

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