Freeman Health System works to raise child abuse awareness

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JOPLIN, Mo. — April is National Child Abuse Prevention Month.

How is Freeman Health System raising awareness for the month?

Pediatricians are telling the community how to spot abuse and neglect. They say every age group can have different warning signs for abuse.

Amanda Dickerson, Pediatrician, said, “We want to really intervene in meaningful ways and teach these parents better ways to have their children have an emotional IQ and learn to handle big emotions because that’s what childhood is learning how to handle huge emotions that you have in this tiny little body.”

Pediatricians at Freeman Health System are breaking the cycle of abuse by raising awareness. For child abuse prevention month they are talking about the warning signs of abuse.

“In a baby you would see poor weight gain in an older kid certainly you see bruises in certain areas like their torso or on their neck or certain parts of their face that would be concerning in a kid that’s little like under four.”

She says teenagers withdrawing from social groups or slipping grades can also be a sign of abuse or neglect. Parents should create a safe space for children to express their feelings.

“Always allow your children the space to feel their feelings even if they’re negative because if you squash your child’s ability to express their feelings they may not disclose if something has happened to them because they’ll think you’ll be angry with them or they’ll think the emotion is something you need to push down and not tell anybody and we need them to tell. If they’ve been abused physically or sexually they need to tell somebody.”

She says kids should know the correct terms for anatomy and parents should set boundaries for their kids.

“I know they’re little but they’re allowed to say no. A child should never be forced to hug an adult a grandparent an aunt uncle. They can say no to the hug and we want them to have those boundaries because if a stranger or a loved one tries to push those boundaries to a point that’s inappropriate we want a child to have the wherewithal and stubbornness and the self confidence to say no that’s not what I want and I’m gonna tell my mom that can really protect your child.”

She says to always leave your children with trusted adults and family members.

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