It is never easy to see a child who has possibly been sexually abused. It's especially not easy when the family tells you that no one other than family members have every been with, cared for, or babysat the child. As a pediatrician, I have had to see the pain on a mother's face that not only does she need to consider her child may have been abused, but also it may have been by someone close to her, someone she loves. It's heart wrenching for everyone involved. Such was the case today. It moved me to write this, as many people need help or information.
Unfortunately, child abuse is common. The news frequently has reports about sexual and physical abuse. We often don't think someone we love could hurt our children. Unfortunately, they can and they do. The reasons why are complex. The reasons don't really matter. The reality is that families are under a great deal of stress. In addition, children often have special needs. This puts children at an even higher risk of abuse. Counseling may be helpful for some families or children. However, it's important to know the warning signs. Because even if you are not a family with stress, you undoubtedly have people in your life that are dealing with stressful events in their lives. This may impact you if they have access to your children. Protect your children at all costs possible.
What matters is that you prevent it from happening in any way, shape, or form. Although we constantly hear about horrendous child abuse, we don't hear or discuss the just as potentially paralyzing cases of emotional and verbal abuse, or even neglect. Whether it is your child or not, if you see or even think you know of a possible case of child abuse, consider calling in a report. Even if you are not sure, it will not be held against you. Chances are you could save a life. It is anonymous. You will not be tracked in any way. Every state has an emergency abuse hotline. In Florida, it is 1-800-FL-ABUSE. As a pediatrician, I am under a legal and ethical obligation to report any possible child abuse. Yet, if each of us were more involved with what we see around us, we could help protect all of our children.