Saturday, April 19, 2014
Inquirer Daily News

Child Abuse

POSTED: Tuesday, March 25, 2014, 5:30 AM
Filed Under: Child Abuse | Janet Rosenzweig
(iStockphoto)

Each year, April is designated as child abuse prevention month by public officials all over the United States and it serves as a reminder of the need to focus on healthy child development. Happy, healthy children grow into happy, healthy, and productive adults and strengthen the economic and social fabric of our community.  

Given the United States’ rank in child well-being in a recent UNICEF report, we need to focus extra hard this year. The UNICEF report released last May showed that the U.S. is ranked 32nd out of 34 industrialized nations in terms of child poverty, with 23.1 percent of children living in relative poverty. Other UNICEF reports have shown similar disappointments: A 2011 report shows our country is ranked 26th out of 29th for overall child well-being, and was ranked in the bottom third in every category measured including material well-being, health and safety, education, behaviors and risks, and housing and environment.

Pennsylvania Department of Health statistics tell us that in Philadelphia, more than one-third of all children live in poverty and that the city’s infant death rate is almost 50 percent higher than Pennsylvania as a whole, at 10.7 per 1000 here, compared to 7.3 for Pennsylvania.  We know that almost half of all pregnant moms did not receive prenatal care in their first trimester. We know that more than half of all kids have smoked a cigarette by the time they graduate high school, and 10 percent of them smoked before the age of 13. We need to reverse these trends.

POSTED: Wednesday, March 12, 2014, 5:30 AM
(iStockphoto)

On a beautiful Sunday morning, I was enjoying a walk in a park, admiring the views, the gardens, the art and the variety of people, when something caught my eye and took my thoughts right back to work. A mom was strolling with her two young children and both kids had their first names written in huge letters on the back of their tie-dyed sweatshirts.

I think this is a dangerous thing to do. Twenty years ago, when law enforcement stressed stranger-danger and abduction-prevention advice to parents, a cardinal rule was to avoid personalizing children's clothes. The fear was that predators could call kids by their first names and engage them through familiarity.

While I'm the first to remind anyone who will listen that the overwhelming majority of sexual abuse against children is perpetrated by someone they know, there's absolutely no reason why we should we give any predator an advantage. Kids need to know about boundary-pushing relatives or acquaintances who prey on children and youth, and that strangers can be predators as well. Adults can turn to the Take 25 Campaign from the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children as a resource to start the conversation in their family using the materials available in English and Spanish.

Predators who would take advantage of a child’s name on her clothing often feign familiarity and indicate that the parent sent them to pick the child up. Another recommendation that bears repeating is for families to specify a code word that a child should expect to hear from any adult claiming to know the child or his family. Preparation is so important; young children -- and many adults -- are incapable of outwitting a charming sociopath.

POSTED: Tuesday, January 21, 2014, 5:30 AM
Filed Under: Child Abuse | Janet Rosenzweig
(iStockphoto)

Fall means soccer, winter brings basketball, and then finally we get to play baseball; so go the seasons of childhood. As parents, we idealize the gifts that youth sports can bring to kids such as improving physical fitness, learning about teamwork, and experiencing the thrill of victory. But the Sandusky tragedy reminds us that even people who seem to have our kids’ best interests at heart may not.

Parental involvement with kids’ sports has always been beneficial to family relationships and children’s self-esteem. Now we’re reminded that child safety is also enhanced by the presence of a parent or other observant adult at practices and games. A convicted pedophile that I interviewed for The Sex-Wise Parent told me that “nothing makes a child less attractive than having his parent around all the time.” Most of us can’t be around all the time, but we can take steps to ensure that there is always one adult with eyes on your child.

Many youth sports teams have specific volunteer or required roles to help the team operate like “snack parent” or “equipment parent.” As the next team season approaches, think about collaborating with other parents to develop a rotating schedule for a “stand parent”, an adult to attend each game or practice to watch over and cheer for each player.

POSTED: Thursday, October 10, 2013, 5:30 AM
Filed Under: Child Abuse | Rima Himelstein | Sex
(iStockphoto)

Recently, I became the doctor of a 17-year-old girl who had been raped.  She told me that right after the rape, she was scared and told her mother.  Her mother immediately took her to the ER.  Following medical guidelines, the ER doctor gave her emergency contraception and treated her empirically for sexually transmitted infections (STIs). My patient told the ER doctor what had happened and even told him that she knew the person. But she refused to tell anyone, including her mother and the police, his name. Like most teenagers who have been victims of sexual assault, my patient chose not to disclose the name of the perpetrator. 

Is it really rare? No. Sexual assault, which is a crime of violence and aggression, includes sexual behaviors ranging from unwanted touching to dating violence to rape.  Sexual assault includes situations in which the victim cannot consent because of intoxication, inability to understand the consequences, or misperceptions because of age or level of cognitive development. Sexual assault is not really rare at all; in fact, it’s all too common. 

The most recent and rigorous studies have found that approximately 27.5% of college women — more than one in four — reported experiences that met the legal criteria for rape. Researchers also found that among female rape victims surveyed, more than half (54%) were under age 18; 32.4% were 12–17; and 21.6% were under age 12 at time of victimization. Studies have also indicated that alcohol is often involved.

POSTED: Wednesday, July 10, 2013, 6:00 AM
Filed Under: Anita Kulick | Child Abuse | Tips
(iStockphoto)

Today's guest blogger is Anita Kulick, President & CEO of Educating Communities for Parenting in Philadelphia. ECP offers a variety of programs and services for teen and adult parents, adjudicated delinquent youth, young adults aging out of the foster care system, preschoolers, and children at grave risk of becoming victims or perpetrators of violence.

Child abuse isn’t new, but it’s not something most people talk about. That all changed with the Jerry Sandusky case. When the story became headline news for months, child abuse was impossible to ignore any longer. Everyone had an opinion about it. The discussions weren’t about Sandusky’s guilt or innocence, but about who was responsible for reporting suspicions to the authorities. The questions many people began asking themselves were, “What would I have done? What should I have done?”

The law is clear when it comes to professionals who are mandated to report concerns, but for average citizens the answer is far more difficult and a lot more personal.

About this blog
The Healthy Kids blog is your window into the latest news, research and advice around children's health. Learn more about our growing list of contributors here.

If you have questions about your child's health, ask them here.

Anna Nguyen Healthy Kids blog Editor
Stephen Aronoff, M.D., M.B.A. Temple University Hospital
Christopher C. Chang, M.D., Ph.D Nemours/Alfred I. duPont Hospital for Children, Jefferson Medical Colg
Mario Cruz, M.D St. Christopher’s Hospital for Children, Drexel University College of Medicine
Katherine K. Dahlsgaard, Ph.D. Lead Psychologist - The Anxiety Behaviors Clinic, CHOP
Gary A. Emmett, M.D. Director of Hospital Pediatrics at TJU Hospital & Pediatrics Professor at Thomas Jefferson Univ.
Lauren Falini Bariatric exercise physiologist, Nemours/Alfred I. duPont Hospital for Children
Hazel Guinto-Ocampo, M.D. Nemours duPont Pediatrics/Bryn Mawr Hospital
Rima Himelstein, M.D. Crozer-Keystone Health System
Anita Kulick President & CEO, Educating Communities for Parenting
Janet Rosenzweig, MS, PhD, MPA VP for Programs & Research for Prevent Child Abuse America
Beth Wallace Smith, RD Children's Hospital of Philadelphia
W. Douglas Tynan, Ph.D. Nemours/Alfred I. duPont Hospital for Children, Jefferson Medical Colg
Flaura Koplin Winston, MD, PhD Scientific Director of the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia’s Center for Injury Research and Prevention
Also on Philly.com:
Stay Connected