By SARAH STOLL
Hilltop Times correspondent
According to 2015 statistics, four children die from abuse each day in the U.S., the Hill AFB audience at last week’s Prevent Child Abuse Utah event learned.
The base Family Advocacy Program invited Prevent Child Abuse Utah to present information on April 8 about abuse and child safety.
The event recognized April as Child Abuse Prevention Month “in hopes that everyone who attends walks away realizing each of us have a part in keeping our children safe,” said Natalie Gallegos, Family Advocacy Outreach Manager at Hill.
In Utah, there were over 20,000 referrals in 2015 — 54 percent female, 46 percent male.
The PCAU presenters addressed the types of abuse — physical, emotional, neglect and sexual. They also covered the signs of abuse, the risk factors, appropriate adult behavior, and the resources available to those experiencing, witnessing or suspicious of abuse.
“The information I found particularly important was how predators are usually someone you know, and they start by grooming the child and coercing them to break a rule before the abuse occurs so they can convince the child not to tell,” said Deedra Nelson, Family Advocacy Nurse at Hill AFB.
Another message was the importance of talking to your children about what is and is not OK, and the importance of letting them be in charge of their own bodies. For example, if they don’t want to hug someone, it’s important not to make them. A high five is a fantastic alternative, and if that’s not comfortable either, it is their right to say “no.”
Abuse can lead to mental health issues, tendencies towards substance abuse, suicide, and eating disorders. The nation spends $220 million per day to support victims.
“I attended because I was invited by Family Advocacy — also because as a Key Spouse, the more information we have, the more aware we become. Child abuse never looks the same. It comes in many forms and it’s so easy to dismiss the signs or turn a blind eye to it,” said Monica Panzarella, a Key Spouse to the 388th EMS. “We, as a society, need to look to a future when child abuse is no longer a problem.”
For more information about preventing child abuse, and resources available, visit www.preventchildabuseutah.org. To report abuse, call the statewide reporting line, 855-323-3237.
And finally, if you suspect any form of child abuse, contact Family Advocacy at 801-777-3497 for assistance.