By Mike Jacquart
Of all the off-the-field problems that football players are experiencing these days, this case just might be rocking the NFL the most: Minnesota Vikings star running back and 2012 season MVP Adrian Peterson accused of abusing his 4-year-old son… allegations that have led to his indefinite suspension from the team. Scores of news reports are focusing on key details of the case, including whether the Vikings acted swiftly enough in their decision. Questions like these are for other sources and websites to discuss and determine, not this blog. …
…What we “do know” at least something about is child abuse. That is, if any “good” can come out of a high-profile case like this, it’s that people are becoming more aware of child abuse who might not normally have given it a thought. Impact Publications, publishers of this blog, has addressed child abuse repeatedly in its Foster Care Support Network (FCSN) and Child Care Support Network (CCSN) trainings for foster parents, and early childhood professionals, respectively. The following are among a few key points to consider:
From FCSN… “Foster Care Training” tab at … http://www.impact-publications.com
* Abused children express their issues of abuse in a variety of ways… including.. secrecy about the abuse (reluctance to talk about it); entrapment and accommodation (feeling there is no way to escape it so the child learns to cope with it); and “backpedaling”or recanting abuse allegations (done to restore the family structure or calm a parent, other family… even the perpetrator).
* A therapist or other mental health professional should be involved in cases of alleged child abuse. There are several reasons why this is important. Children who have been sexually abused often have Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder. Other youth may not have PTSD, but have some other diagnosis such as Oppositional Defiant Disorder or Reactive Attachment Disorder. Only a trained mental health professional is qualified to make a diagnosis and advise treatment.
* Key resource: Prevent Child Abuse America … http://www.preventchildabuse.org
From CCSN…. “Child Care Training” tab at … http://www.impact-publications.com
* Risk factors of abuse: economic, housing or personal issues; isolation from family or community; difficulty controlling anger or managing stress; dealing with physical or mental health issues; abusing alcohol or other drugs; lack of interest in the care and safety of their children. (This is not to say that parents exhibiting one or more of these traits are, in fact, abusing or neglecting their kids. However, helping parents who might be struggling in any of these areas reduces the likelihood that children will be abused or neglected.)
* Signs that child abuse may be occurring include: sudden change in behavior; learning problems that cannot be attributed to specific physical or psychological causes; or the child is withdrawn, avoids physical or eye contact, and prefers to be alone.
* Important aspects of child abuse to remember include: in many cases sexual abusers are not strangers; the child must understand that the abuse was not his/her fault; when a child tells you what happened, it’s very important to let him or her talk.
* Key resource: National Child Abuse Hotline, 1-800-4-A-CHILD.