8 Myths About Child Abuse

8 Myths about Child Abuse

  1. Child abuse is rare.
    • In fact, around one in every five children will suffer from some sort of abuse/neglect before their eighteenth birthday, according to the US Department of Justice.
  2. Children are mostly abused by strangers.
    • According to The Safe Child Program, over 90% of child abuse cases are by someone the child knows and trusts (parents, relatives, teachers, neighbors, etc.)
  3. Abuse only happens in low-income families.
    • There is no evidence that proves abuse only happens in a certain type of family. Race, religion, education, and socioeconomic status don’t have anything to do with abuse.
  4. Its only abuse if it’s physical.
    • Abuse can take the form of physical, sexual, emotional, or neglect. Any form of these different types of abuse are damaging to a child’s wellbeing.
  5. If the child doesn’t report it, it can’t be that bad.
    • Only one in every ten children that are abused actually report that abuse, as stated by The Safe Child Program. Often times the child can think the abuse is normal or that if they do tell no one will believe them.
  6. Good parents don’t get mad at their children.
    • It’s okay to be angry with your children, but it is not okay to hurt your children because of that anger. If you find that you are often very angry at your children and need help, The Center for Parenting Education has a lot of good information to help.
  7. If there is a reason the child is being disciplined, it doesn’t count as abuse.
    • There is a difference between discipline and abuse. Discipline is meant to teach a child how and why they were wrong so that they can learn for the future. As reported by the Child Welfare Information Gateway, physical discipline in children can often lead to more aggressive behavior in the child and may just lead the child to being submissive and fearful instead of correcting their behavior.
  8. There’s nothing that I can do to help with this issue in my community.
    • No matter where you live you can always do something to help. If you see abuse report it. The National Child Abuse Hotline number is 1-800-4-A-CHILD (1-800-422-4453). If you would like to further help the children in your community, reach out to your local CASA program to find out how to volunteer.
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How to Spot Child Abuse/Neglect and How You Can Help

Children suffering from abuse and/or neglect is all too familiar for our advocates, as all of our CASA children have suffered from some form of abuse or neglect. For others abuse is often something that is only seen on the news, and they may assume that there is no way child abuse/neglect is affecting anyone they know. In actuality, there are more than 870,000 cases of child abuse and neglect documented each year and nine out of ten times the child is being abused by their own parents/guardians. We at CASA of Middlesex would like to help inform you of the different types of child abuse and neglect and how you may be able to spot them and stop the abuse from continuing.

We are going to start with physical abuse because it is often the easiest form of abuse to spot because it will frequently leave a mark on the child. Physical abuse is defined as the intentional harming of a child by use of excessive force and/or reckless endangerment. A child suffering from physical abuse could have unexplained bruises, welts, scars or burns, different injuries within various states of healing, internal damage or head injuries, or injuries that do not match the explanation of how the child received them. An example of this could be getting a black-eye from falling off a bicycle whereas usually children would only get scrapes or bruises.

Next we will discuss sexual abuse, which is defined as engaging a child in any activity for an adult’s own sexual gratification. Some of the indicators for sexual abuse are physical injuries to the genital area, age-inappropriate sexual knowledge, a pregnancy or STD at a young age, inappropriate touching of themselves or others in public areas, extreme fear, depression, or distress.

Emotional abuse is more difficult to recognize as it can often be seen as a child “acting out” or being “moody”. Emotional abuse is not just a one-time situation, it is the systematic diminishment of a child designed to reduce a child’s self-concept to the point where the child feels unworthy of respect, friendship, love and protection, which are the natural birthrights of all children. Signs for spotting emotional abuse in a child include habit disorders (thumb sucking, biting, rocking, enuresis) or conduct disorders (withdrawal or antisocial behavior), lags in emotional or intellectual development, low self-esteem, depression or suicide attempts.

The last thing we will discuss is neglect, which is the failure of a person responsible for the child’s welfare to provide necessary food, care, clothing, shelter, or medical attention or the failure to act when these failures interfere with the child’s health and safety. Different signs of neglect include malnourishment, insufficient food or poor nutrition, missed immunizations, lack of supervision, consistent dirtiness, filthy living conditions, inadequate shelter, or constant tiredness/listlessness.

Our goal at CASA is for abused and neglected children to be placed in a safe, permanent home where they can thrive. If someone you know has one or more of these indicators the most important thing to do is to call 1-877-NJ-ABUSE (1-877- 652-2873) to report the abuse and to let a professional handle the situation. For more information on reporting Child Abuse in New Jersey, visit New Jersey’s Department of Children and Family’s website. To learn more about how you can help prevent childhood abuse visit the Child Welfare Information Gateway or Prevent Child Abuse America.

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What happens to kids without a CASA?

JohnCourt3LG.jpgChildren living in foster care have suffered trauma, abuse and neglect. They are often confused and fearful of their uncertain future. The well-intentioned systems designed to serve these vulnerable children can sometimes overlook the needs of an individual child. That’s where CASA volunteers come in.

These dedicated individuals work on the front lines with the courts, schools, healthcare providers and social services to ensure each child gets the needed help while in foster care and finds a safe, permanent home as soon as possible.

Research shows that children with a CASA volunteer spend less time in foster care. They do better in school and they are less likely to return to foster care once they leave it.

Sadly, in 2016, just 21 percent of the more than 600 Middlesex County children in foster care had a CASA in their corner. That means roughly 500 of these vulnerable children had no one adult looking out solely for their best interests.

C_MG_1427_lznhildren without a CASA are more likely to experience negative outcomes, including spending more time in foster care, struggling at school and returning to foster care because of repeat abuse.

CASA of Middlesex County is a non-profit organization that relies on the generosity of its supporters. Toast 2017, set for May 7 at 11 a.m. at Steakhouse 85 in New Brunswick, is our major fundraiser, with proceeds used to recruit, train and support volunteers to serve more children in foster care.

Please join us for a scrumptious brunch, champagne toasts and a fun afternoon with friends, while helping more Middlesex County children in foster care.

Reserve your tickets, sponsorships or ad journal today.

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Toast with us…

Each year, our annual brunch brings together people who care about Middlesex County children, including many prominent community and state leaders. It’s a time to enjoy a few fun hours of mixing and mingling with friends and colleagues, not to mention savoring a delicious brunch and enjoying a champagne toast of a prominent New Jersey resident who has made a difference in the lives of our children.

This year, Toast 2017 will kick off at 11 a.m. on May 7 at Steakhouse 85 in New Brunswick. We will honor Amy Mansue, president, Southern Region for RWJBarnabas Health, for her deep dedication to improving the lives of New Jersey children.

During this open-house style event, we will present a brief (we promise!) program at 12:30 p.m. We’ve added a Silent Auction this year and expect to have many fabulous gifts and services available for you to browse and bid.

Visit our online registration page to reserve tickets, sponsorships and ad journal opportunities. 

In past years, we have been thrilled to be joined by many distinguished guests, including New Brunswick Mayor James Cahill, Former Governor Jim Florio and his wife, Lucinda, Assemblyman John Wisniewski (who is now running for governor!) and other community and state leaders.

We depend on the generous support of people in the community to carry out our mission to provide every foster child with a CASA volunteer who stands up for that child’s best interests. Children with a CASA tend to fare much better than those without one. They spend less time in foster care and do better in school. Yet just one in five Middlesex County foster children have a CASA in their corner.

Please help us give more kids a CASA by joining us for Toast 2017!

Reserve your tickets today. 

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CASA helps Reya improve her health

09_CASA_071_HICASA advocate Alec’s story involved two small children; one just three years old and the other almost two years old.  The children were removed from the home because of drug use by both parents. During the time Alec started working for the case, the children were living with the maternal grandparents, the mother was living with friends and the father was incarcerated.

The older child Reya was substantially behind in her development. Alec noticed the child was not receiving sufficient therapy to overcome her speech and motor delays. Additionally, her teeth showed significant damage as a result of excessive iron she received to correct a prior condition. Alec recommended to the court that the child should receive additional weekly therapy and dental services.

The judge agreed with the recommendations. Over the approximately fourteen months that the case was active Reya showed significant improvement and is well on her way to being developmentally back on target.

When Alec first started visiting the children they wanted to have nothing to do with him. Over time, the children began to enjoy their time with Alec, running and reaching out to be picked up each time they saw him.  Alec knew he had a positive effect on their lives and that’s a great feeling for him.

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To keep Ariella’s name alive

ariellaIt’s a tale of a beautiful girl, as beautiful as a princess in a fairytale. With her blond hair and blue eyes and a rosy smile the Milltown, New Jersey girl took everyone’s heart away. She knew how to live life spreading contentment amongst everyone. Her serene smile and enthusiasm taught all how life should be celebrated. Her Uncle John said only sad would be the one who never had the chance to meet this gorgeous girl. She was Ariella Marian Hopkins, a proud owner of eleven American girl dolls and a true friend to everyone from Milltown. Shortly after graduating kindergarten, six-year-old Ariella had to leave the world due to a sudden illness. Since then, her daddy Bobby Hopkins and mommy Lisa Hopkins have been fighting to keep her smile alive.

Life was all glorious with Ariella, ever since she was born. She lived every single moment of her tiny life.  Snowy winter afternoons were never dull while riding in a small wagon with daddy. She was a born leader among friends knowing so well how to keep a strong connection. The day Ariella passed away, life stopped for everyone in Milltown. It was a nightmare that no one could leave. But the Hopkins family decided to look beyond and keep Ariella’s smile alive. They started looking for reasons to smile. “I would like to think that the world is a little less bright without Ariella in it. But then again maybe the universe and heavens above are shining like they never have before with her presence there,” said Bobby.

This positivity was something that spread quickly in Milltown. With the help of friends and family, the Hopkins family planned for a beautiful day in memory of Ariella. They came up with “Ariella Hopkins Day” to celebrate her life and beyond. Almost 700 people attended and they raised $30,000 which was divided between a scholarship to the school she loved the most, Saint Bartholomew School, and The American Legion which gives money to various organizations that benefit veterans and their children.  They also sold over 500 ‘Ariella Hopkins Day’ T-shirts to keep her name blooming everywhere. It was a hugely successful day for the Hopkins. Bobby and Lisa continued to keep Ariella’s name alive in all possible ways. Ariella’s favorite pocket park in the town was also named after her as Ariella Hopkins Little Park. “Ariella’s little sister will one day play in the same park and it will be a wonderful feeling for us,” shared Bobby. The Hopkins family wanted to make more donations and they thought about the children in foster care. They initiated a toy drive during the holidays benefiting children in foster care served by CASA programs in New Jersey. Bobby and Lisa collected almost 1,200 toys for the children as a donation and put unforgettable smiles on their faces.

The story of the Hopkins family is emotional, inspiring and a source of positivity. It’s probably the six-year-old girl who abetted her family to live life so positively.  Ariella touched everyone’s souls. The Hopkins family will continue to keep her name alive every day. Now Milltown awaits the celebration of another Ariella Hopkins Day coming in May. As Morris Dees rightly says, “What a privilege to be here on the planet to contribute your unique donation to humankind. Each face in the rainbow of colors that populate our world is precious and special.” Ariella Hopkins Day undoubtedly brings happiness through its dynamic program. Ariella and her family have taught us beautiful lessons in pursuing happiness despite struggle and in keeping a loved one’s name alive. However, CASA of Middlesex County is overwhelmed by their donation for children in foster care. Hopkins’s meaningful step was not only a tribute to Ariella but also a significance in itself.

 

Written By Priyanka Banerjee 

 

 

 

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Emma is Reunited with Mom!

casa070253-hLittle Emma’s childhood was different from others.  Having parents with mental illnesses and drug addictions meant that she faced neglect throughout her childhood. She also was on some psychotropic medication. When Emma was eight her school feared that she was being seriously neglected. Her school attendance was erratic. She was often seen to be dirty and inappropriately dressed, and she was observed walking through the woods several blocks from her home unattended. The investigation revealed that her mother stopped giving her the prescribed medication against doctor’s orders. Her mom reported having done so because she felt Emma was old enough to decide that for herself.
Emma loves to read and does so two grades above grade level. Emma was placed in the home of her father’s cousin, started attending school regularly, and exhibited a talent for art. It was CASA Advocate Rebbeca’s case.  While doing well in her resource home, Emma reported being happy to live there, but consistently expressed a strong preference to live with her mother.

When her parents lost custody of Emma, both parents had entered rehabilitation programs.  Her father regressed and was hospitalized in a psychiatric hospital. Upon successful completion of her program, the mother began intensive counseling and parenting classes. She developed a good and supportive relationship with Emma’s foster family, showed the positive results of her parenting classes, and gradually moved from having supervised visits with her daughter, to unsupervised visits, to o
ver-night visits. All of the mom’s counselors and therapists report that she has done everything that she was supposed to do and has met every goal she set for herself.

Just after Emma turned eleven she was reunited with her mother, who stays in contact with Emma’s foster family. She spent Christmas Eve with them, and Christmas Day with her mother. Emma is thriving and her mother continues to do well in her therapy.

All through the case, Rebecca spent many hours talking with mom, being supportive of her efforts, reassuring her that she was doing well, and maintaining hope that she would succeed. Also, Rebecca spent a fair amount of time encouraging her to emotionally separate herself from negative influences that would keep her from being the best mom to Emma.

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