Stop Child Abuse

Lawndale News Chicago's Bilingual Newspaper - Local News

By: Ashmar Mandou

Sadly, approximately 125,000 children in Illinois are affected by child abuse and neglect each year and one in five children will be abused before they turn 18 years-old, according to the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services. This month marks Child Abuse Prevention Awareness and the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services (DCFS) is just one of the many agencies across the state providing support and services for children and families at risk.

“Heading into April is a great time in some ways because it allows us to be proactive in our messaging and also to show that DCFS is not just punitive that we are committed to prevention, we are committed to helping families stay out of the system, and helping stay together,” said Deputy Director of Communications for DCFS. “This month is a great way to let the community know that we are here to help people.”

Child abuse or neglect can happen within any family home, regardless of socioeconomic status. Hawkins encourages people to remain vigilant and become more active in the community. “Sometimes we have the mentality to not get involved because we feel like it’s none of our business,” said Hawkins. “But the truth of the matter is we all have a responsibility to look out for children and have them know we, as adults, can be trusted to lookout for their safety and well-being.” Hawkins shared tips on what signs to lookout for and where to call.

What are some of the warning signs of abuse or neglect?

Unsure if a child’s injuries are the result of mistreatment or the mistreatment of a child is abuse or neglect that places the child at risk of harm? Ask yourself some simple questions:

• If I witnessed a child being treated this way by a babysitter, teacher or other caregiver, rather than a parent or relative, would I want someone to stop it?
• If a babysitter, teacher or other caregiver were treating my child this way, would I want someone to stop it?
• If I was that child, would I want someone to help me?
• What do your instincts tell you is the right thing to do, even if it is difficult?

Additional tips for recognizing child abuse:

General Warning Signs

The child:

• Shows sudden changes in behavior or school performance;
• Has not received help for physical or medical problems brought to the parents’ attention;
• Is always watchful, as though preparing for something bad to happen;
• Lacks adult supervision; or
• Often wears long sleeves or other concealing clothing in warm weather.

How do I report suspected abuse or neglect?

Call the 24-hour Child Abuse Hotline at 800-25-ABUSE (800-252-2873) if you suspect that a child has been harmed or is at risk of being harmed by abuse or neglect. If you believe a child is in immediate danger of harm, call 911 first.

If you suspect abuse or neglect you have a social responsibility to report it to the hotline. Your confidential call will not only make sure the child is safe, but also help provide the child’s family the services they need to provide a safe, loving and nurturing home.

Throughout the month of April, DCFS is hosting an array of events to promote child abuse prevention. To check them out, visit

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