Friday, April 3, 2009

April is National Child Abuse Awareness Month (Families and Communities United in Fighting a Menace That Knows No Borders)

4 April 2009

As I was preparing to write this article, it dawned on me that the United Nations and its instrumentalities such as the UNESCO or UNICEF have not officially organized any Day or Month celebration to mark the worldwide fight against child abuse.  There is a World Day for the Prevention of Child Abuse observed every 19th of November every year since 2000 but it is an initiative of the Women's World Summit Foundation and where UNICEF plays only a supporting role as a partner.

However, instead of that dampening my enthusiasm and commitment, I believe that that fact only serves to give more reason why articles like this should be written. The statistics are too disturbing to be ignored.  Childhelp USA says that "while 3 million reports of child abuse are made every year in the United States, experts estimate that the actual number of incidents of abuse and neglect is 3 times greater than reported." Greater awareness of the peril of child abuse needs to be fostered to combat it.  For this is a menace that respects no borders and one that assumes many forms.  

Thomas, et al. (2002) identifies four main types of child maltreatment, namely:
physical abuse, child neglect, sexual abuse, and emotional abuse. Physical abuse is the infliction of physical injury by various methods, even if the perpetrator does not intend harm. Child neglect is the failure to provide for the child's basic needs and can be physical, educational, or emotional. Sexual abuse is the involvement of a child in any kind of sexual act, including prostitution or pornography; many believe this is the most underreported type of abuse. Emotional abuse is an act or omission that has caused or could cause, serious behavioral, cognitive, emotional, or mental disorders. These types of maltreatment often occur together within a family, though they can appear alone as well.
The Child Welfare Information Gateway, a service of the Children's Bureau, Administration for Children and Families, U.S Department of Health and Human Services is a treasure trove of resources to help protect children, strengthen families and provide community support. From the history section of the information gateway, I've come up with a concise timeline of child abuse legislation, celebrations and developments in the United States:
1974 - Child Abuse Prevention and Treatment Act (CAPTA)
1982 - celebration of the first National Child Abuse Prevention Week (June 6-12)
1983 - proclamation of the first National Child Abuse Prevention Month (April)
1989 - start of the first Blue Ribbon Campaign to Prevent Child Abuse
2003 - National Child Abuse Prevention Initiative becomes a year-long effort
2003 - Keeping Children and Families Safe Act
Today - Family strengthening message promotes parenting and community support
The guides below are from the 2009 Resource Guide and Related Materials section of the information gateway.  These are actually individual pages taken from the 87-page 2009 Resource Guide, a publication of the Department of Health and Human Services' Children's Bureau, Office on Child Abuse and Neglect, its Child Welfare Information Gateway, and the FRIENDS National Resource Center for Community-Based Child Abuse Prevention.  The 2009 Resource Guide is downloadable here.

Please click on the images to enlarge them:

Bonding With Your Baby
Connecting With Your Teen
Ten Ways to Be a Better Dad
Raising Your Grandchildren
Dealing With Temper Tantrums
Teen Parents ... You're Not Alone

In the Philippines, a developing country wherein child abuse is most probably more rampant than in the United States, giant strides have nevertheless been made in the area of child abuse prevention. Republic Act 7610, entitled "Special Protection of Children Against Abuse, Exploitation and Discrimination Act," also popularly known as the Anti-Child Abuse Law, was passed by Congress and signed into law in 1992. RA 7610 contains provisions protecting children from abuse, exploitation and discrimination, child labor, sexual abuse, prostitution, and other forms of maltreatment.  Invoking the UN General Assembly Resolution 1386 (XIV) of 20 November 1959, also known as the Declaration of the Rights of the Child, RA 7610 adopts and enshrines the "best interests of the child" principle as the paramount consideration in enacting laws towards child protection.
In 2004, Republic Act 9262 known as the "Anti-Violence Against Women and Their Children Act" found its way into the statute books further buttressing the protection given to their children and their mothers.

But laws alone are not enough. The complex nature of child abuse plus the fact that it is usually committed away from the gaze of prying eyes by perpetrators who are oftentimes related to the children victims or are in a position of authority over them make doubly difficult the task of combating or preventing it. The effort needs adequate funding and dedicated implementation by government agencies, two resource factors that are oftentimes lacking in the Philippines. This is where NGOs come in to contribute their share. Perhaps the most visible non-governmental work along these lines is done by Bantay Bata 163, a household word in the Philippines.  

An effort of the Lopez-run ABS-CBN Foundation, Inc. Bantay Bata 163 receives calls for help and reports of cases of child abuse thru its 24/7 hotline and mounts an urgent child rescue effort in coordination with the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD). This is how the Bantay Bata 163 website describes its work:

Bantay Bata 163 is a child welfare program of ABS-CBN Foundation that not only rescues and rehabilitates sick and abused children, but also provides shelter, therapy and quality home care for rescued children until they can be reunited with their families or referred to proper child-caring agencies.

BB163 gives emphasis on the family through the following services: training and advocacy on child abuse prevention, rehabilitation of families in crisis, educational scholarships, livelihood, community outreach and medical and dental missions.

The intro to its website proudly proclaims Bantay Bata's achievements since its inception: "from the years 1997 to 2006,  219,934 calls were received and acted upon, 1,511 children rescued from abuse, 1461 children provided with educational assistance, 12,557 children provided with medical assistance."   

In other areas of the world, especially in war-torn parts of Africa, children enjoy a lot less protection than they do in the United States and in the Philippines.  Aside from starvation, lack of basic necessities such as potable water, absence of any opportunity to go to school, many African children face the threats of violence brought about by armed conflicts either as innocent victims or children combatants.  In a continent racked by turmoil and ransacked by corrupt governments, African children need all the help they can get from the outside world.    

Truly, child abuse is a menace that knows no borders.  But its expanse can be contained by children who are more aware of their rights, by parents who give unconditional love to their kids and are more mindful of their responsibilities and by families bound by a common resolve to forge communities that are a haven to tomorrow's generations, the children of today's world.  


Thomas, David, Leicht, C., Hughes, C., Madigan, A. & Dowell K. (2002). Emerging Practices In the Prevention of Child Abuse and Neglect: Office on Child Abuse and Neglect, p. 12


  1. What a very informative post. In this modern times children are caught between adult's struggles and cruelty. But we should start by giving understanding and giving them love and support at home then so that they will grow up to be loving and responsible person.No parent is parent is perfect but with the guide we can be better I follow those guide you mentioned since I cooperates with the institution personnel and health worker who can help me with child upbringing's.
    Happy Easter!!

  2. I did spend some time researching this post Ana and it's really time very well spent just reading your reaction.

    You're right about how valuable the 2009 Resource Guide is. We all fall short of our responsibilities and need reminders from time to time. It's nice to know you've also found it personally useful.

    Those who read this reply can directly download the PDF file from the link given above.

    A Joyous Easter to you Ana, to Peter and to little Magnus!

  3. Thanks for posting for Child Abuse Prevention Month! I came over from Bloggers Unite. I really like this article. I especially like the time line you put up. If you are interested, this would be an excellent post for the April edition of THE BLOG CARNIVAL AGAINST CHILD ABUSE. The deadline to submit is tomorrow. Details are at my blog. Thanks, in advance, for considering! :)

  4. Thanks for posting this information. If more people become aware, we can save more children from being abused around the world. As you said, child abuse knows no boundaries.

  5. Thank you so much for joining us and allowing us to use this informative post for The Blog Carnival Against Child Abuse, which posted today.

  6. To Marj,

    Thank you for organizing this carnival and for generously encouraging me to submit this post for inclusion in the April 2009 edition.

    Thanks to Mike for hosting. Thank you too to Rainbow whose Blogger's Unite event, National Child Abuse Awareness Month - Save a Child!, was the principal reason why this particular post was written in the first place.

    To Patricia,

    It's surprising how the simple act of sharing information can help people. I'm glad to know that what we write, even by amplification only, can have a positive effect in the lives of other people.

    I'm pleased to note that your deeply moving story made less painful by time, Incest Is One of My Stories, takes lead position in the parade of posts in the April 2009 Carnival Against Child Abuse.

    I celebrate your grace and your courage and join you in your shout of joyful hope and daily conquest, "Spring is knowing that Life is glorious each and every day!"

    God bless to all of you!


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