The first thing that has to be done is to create awareness that child abuse IS an issue in our communities and that, with people working together, it IS preventable! First, we have to educate ourselves, then we will be more prepared to bring up the subject and share the information!
What is Child Abuse?
In Iowa, the Legislature defines “child abuse” as:
- Failure to provide adequate food, shelter, clothing or other care necessary for a child’s health and well-being
- Intended physical injury
- Sexual abuse of a child
- Presence of an illegal drug in a child’s body as a result of actions or neglect
- Allowing a known sex offender, who is not the child’s biological parent or the caretaker’s spouse, custody or access to a child
- Manufacturing a dangerous substance in a child’s presence
- Mental injury to a child
- Providing access to or showing obscene material to a child
According to Iowa law, to be “child abuse”, the above acts must be committed by someone who is responsible for the child’s well-being:
- Parent or guardian
- Foster parent
- Health care or residential treatment employee
- Childcare employee
- A relative or anyone living with a child, who is responsible for his or her supervision
- This information was taken from the Prevent Child Abuse website. Click here for this and more preventative information.
Child Abuse Statistics
- Each year, Prevent Child Abuse Iowa compiles reports from the Iowa Department of Human Services (DHS):
- 12,276 children in Iowa were abused in 2013. This was a five percent increase from the number of children abused in 2012.
- Child abuse disproportionately impacts young children. In 2013, almost half of child abuse victims were under six years old.
- Almost 4 out of 5 child abuse cases in 2013 were due to denial of critical care, which indicates a parent or caretaker failed to provide adequate food, shelter, clothing, or other care necessary for a child’s well-being.
Much more information can be found at:
Once you’re informed, spread the word and let others know about child abuse issues and that PREVENTION IS POSSIBLE! Promote prevention programming to local leadership, help spread the word about child abuse prevention and family support programs and efforts in your community, and/or contact your legislators to urge them to support work that protects children from abuse and neglect, including family support.
Give what you can to child abuse prevention efforts at both the local and state levels.
Connect to area faith-based organizations, family/child-service organizations, and County Child Abuse Prevention Councils to donate money or supplies. You can also participate in the Check-Off Child Abuse Campaign: when you file your State Income Taxes, donate a portion of your refund or make an addition to your amount owed to Child Abuse Prevention. Ask your tax preparer or find that opportunity on the Iowa Tax Form 1040.
Schools and other youth-serving organizations
Donate printing or inclusion of prevention programs on websites, handouts and newsletters to help with marketing expenses, offer space for a parent training or family-focused event and offer child abuse prevention training opportunities to their staff and volunteers.
Faith-based organizations and civic groups
Do fund-raising to support local prevention programs, including family support programming funds within their budgets, and offer financial support for their membership to participate in prevention activities.
Sponsor family and child-focused events and programs, donate space for advertising or provide paid volunteer time for their employees to help with special prevention activities.
Your time, skills, knowledge, connections, and care are all needed! Here are some ideas for just about everyone on how to help – it really does “take a village”.
Individuals can volunteer in a child-serving program, serve on Child Abuse Prevention Councils, talk to a struggling mom at the grocery store or offer to babysit a neighbor’s child after school. If you have a suspicion regarding the safety of a child, it’s important to report it! Make the anonymous phone call to 1-800-362-2178.
Schools and other youth-serving organizations can get connected to community efforts and agencies that work with families and children, assist prevention programs with referrals through their access to families and children, perform background checks of anyone working around/with children, and offer child abuse prevention training opportunities to their staff and volunteers.
Faith-based organizations and civic groups can volunteer for local prevention projects, screen and train volunteers and staff that will work with families, provide space for activities, programs and advertising for child abuse programming, and begin family support programs and services.
Businesses can adopt family-friendly practices and policies such as childcare assistant or family sick time. They can choose to pay individuals a living wage and connect their workers to services and education through their Human Resource Departments.
To raise awareness, everyone has the opportunity to participate in or create activities around the Pinwheels for Prevention, Stomp Out Bullying, and Child Abuse Prevention and Awareness Month in April.
With Community Partnerships for Protecting Children, all are welcome and needed! No child welfare experience is expected… just the desire to do what you can for the kids in your community!