Schuette recognizes April as Child Abuse Prevention Month

Michigan Attorney General Bill Schuette last week recognized April as Child Abuse Prevention Month and encouraged residents to know the signs of abuse and how to report it if they suspect a child is in harm’s way.

“As adults, it is our job to speak for children who cannot speak for themselves, especially when something as horrific as child abuse is happening,” said Schuette. “In most cases children do not know where to turn when suffering abuse so if you suspect a child is being abused, say something, report it, it could save a life.”

Schuette’s Children and Youth Services Division provides legal advice and representation to the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services in litigation and appellate work involving child abuse and neglect cases in Wayne County.

Last year, the division handled a total of 1,382 petitions of which 1,062 were original petitions requesting court intervention for 2,151 children who were victims of abuse and neglect.

The division made 10,880 appearances for court hearings regarding these children and 2,198 appearances for trials on their behalf.

The Michigan Child Protection Law requires certain people, including teachers, health care professionals and law enforcement, to report their suspicions of child abuse or neglect to Children's Protective Services.

The Michigan Department of Health and Human Services has indicated the following as possible indicators of abuse and neglect:

Physical Neglect —

Physical Indicators: Unattended medical needs, lack of supervision, regular signs of hunger, inappropriate dress, poor hygiene, distended stomach, emaciated, significant weight change.

Behavioral Indicators: Regularly displays fatigue or listlessness, falls asleep in class, steals/hoards food, begs from classmates, reports that no caretaker is at home.

Physical Abuse —

Physical Indicators: Unexplained bruises (in various stages of healing), welts, loop marks, adult/human bite marks, bald spots or missing clumps of hair, unexplained fractures, skin lacerations/punctures or abrasions, unexplained burns/scalds, swollen lips/chipped teeth, linear/parallel marks on cheeks and temple area, crescent-shaped bruising, puncture wounds, bruising behind the ears.

Behavioral Indicators: Self-destructive/self-mutilation, withdrawn and/or aggressive-behavior extremes, uncomfortable/skittish with physical contact, arrives at school late or stays late as if afraid to be at home, chronic runaway (adolescents), complains of soreness or moves uncomfortably, wears clothing inappropriate to weather, to cover body, lack of impulse control (e.g. inappropriate outbursts).

Sexual Abuse —

Physical indicators: Pain or itching in genital area, bruises or bleeding in genital area, sexually transmitted disease, frequent urinary or yeast infections, extreme or sudden weight change, pregnancy under 12 years of age.

Behavioral Indicators: Withdrawal, chronic depression, sexual behaviors or references that are unusual for the child's age, seductive or promiscuous behavior, poor self-esteem, self-devaluation, lack of confidence, suicide attempts (especially adolescents), hysteria, lack of emotional control.

Cases of abuse or neglect should be reported to local law enforcement or the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS). Anyone, including a child, who suspects child abuse or neglect, can make a report to MDHHS by calling 855-444-3911.

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