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Every year more than half a million children in the United States suffer from abuse or neglect. Some children even die at the hands of their abusers. All socioeconomic groups are affected and Baton Rouge is no exception.

Child abuse (physical, sexual, emotional) and neglect often occur at home by a person the child knows well. Although abuse and neglect affects children of all ages, race and family income levels, research has identified factors that are associated with an increased risk of abuse and neglect. Some of those factors are young or single parents, the presence of substance abuse, mental illness, lack of family support, and the presence of a child with a developmental disability or chronic illness.

Anyone can and should report abuse and neglect to Child Protection Services without fear of retribution. Recognize the warning signs that might signal abuse or neglect. Behaviors such as being nervous or afraid of certain adults, reluctance to go home, passiveness and being overly withdrawn or aggressive, and disruptive outbursts might be early warning signs. Fatigue or complaints of nightmares and not sleeping well can also be cause for concern. Such behaviors often appear before physical signs, which can include malnourishment, lack of supervision, truancy, and poor hygiene.

We often think of child abuse and neglect as problems that affect others however, we need to be aware of the signs of abuse and neglect within or own family and community. Get involved. With the help of community outreach programs in the Baton Rouge area, the lives of our children can be improved and even saved.

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