Child Abuse

Adopted March 1989 – Revised May 2016 – Revised November 2020 – Health & Community Concerns Commission

California State PTA believes children are the future and must be protected from harm. PTA further believes all children are entitled to live and grow in an atmosphere of love and respect, and no child should be subjected to physical, psychological, verbal or sexual abuse. PTA, as the state’s largest child advocacy organization, must assume a leadership role to achieve these goals.

According to Healthy, approximately 3 million cases of child abuse and neglect involving almost 5.5 million children are reported each year.  Most child abuse occurs within the family.  Risk factors include parental depression or other mental health issues, a parental history of childhood abuse, and domestic violence.   Child neglect and other forms of abuse are also more common in families living in poverty and among parents who are teenagers or who abuse drugs or alcohol. More children are abused by a caregiver or someone they know than abused outside of the home by a stranger.

Child neglect can include physical neglect (failing to provide food, clothing, shelter, or other physical necessities), emotional neglect (failing to provide love, comfort, or affection), or medical neglect (failing to provide needed medical care).  Psychological or emotional abuse results from all of the above, but also can be associated with verbal abuse, which can harm a child’s self-worth or emotional well-being.

A child who has been abused needs special support and treatment as early as possible.

Changes in a child that parents and caregivers should be aware of include:

  • Fearful behavior (nightmares, depression, unusual fears)
  • Abdominal pain, bed-wetting (especially if the child has already been toilet trained)
  • Attempts to run away
  • Extreme sexual behavior that seems inappropriate for the child’s age
  • Sudden change in self-confidence
  • Headaches or stomachaches with no medical cause
  • Abnormal fears, increased nightmares
  • School failure
  • Extremely passive or aggressive behavior
  • Desperately affectionate behavior or social withdrawal
  • Big appetite and stealing food

California State PTA advocates:

  • Public education about the unmet needs of and public responsibility to children and families;
  • Public education about the prevalence, causes, methods of intervention and prevention of child abuse;
  • Public education about programs and assistance available to victims and their families;
  • Parenting skills workshops and classes for parents and teenagers;
  • Public education for children on the identification of abuse and the survival skills they need to learn to be safe;
  • Thorough implementation of state laws requiring school districts to provide training for school personnel (including classroom aides, yard duty personnel and custodians) in the identification, prevention, treatment and reporting of child abuse;
  • School, law enforcement, courts and social service agencies working cooperatively and acting promptly in handling cases of suspected child abuse;
  • Creating adequate laws to protect children from cyber bullying, intended online stalking and using any type of communication device to physically or mentally abuse another child or cause harm;
  • Team-building workshops so active members in the community can get acquainted with each other;
  • Adequate funding for treatment centers and temporary shelters;
  • Adequate funding and staffing for child welfare services programs; and
  • Anonymous telephone tip established and advertised for safe public reporting.
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