SPRINGFIELD – April and the color blue denote National Child Abuse Prevention Month.
Statistics vary, but one stated that one in eight children will be sexually abused by their 18th birthday.
Prevent Child Abuse Illinois Executive Director Denise McCaffrey said child sexual abuse is one of the most underreported abuses there is, but also the most preventable.
McCaffrey said there are red flags that could signal abuse to look for.
“Maybe this is a child that has been outgoing and really friendly and always happy, and then you see a real sudden change in their behavior, maybe now they’re very withdrawn, they act afraid, they cry a lot — that’s a red flag,” McCaffrey said
Now that kids are back in school, the reports are increasing, she said.
“Due to a lot more stress in our lives right now, kids are at a little bit higher risk than they were, because families are struggling,” McCaffrey noted. “There are a lot of families that are out of work and don’t have the funds that they need to put food on the table.”
Neglect is one of the biggest problems they see, she said. Patterned bruises or injuries that don’t fit the explanation the child offers or children who seem to live without supervision are other potential indicators to consider.
Anyone who wishes to report a case of concern can call 800-252-2873.