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Pennsylvania DPW Highlights Child Abuse Prevention Efforts

HARRISBURG, Pa., April 10, 2013 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Governor Corbett, along with the Department of Public Welfare (DPW), is recognizing the importance of preventing child abuse and neglect this month as part of a statewide campaign to raise awareness of prevention efforts.

Acting Deputy Secretary Cathy Utz, of DPW's Office of Children, Youth and Families, today presented a proclamation from Governor Corbett at the annual child abuse prevention breakfast in Harrisburg, recognizing Child Abuse Prevention Month.

"Every child in the commonwealth deserves to be cared for by adults who provide love, protection and a safe environment," Governor Corbett's proclamation reads. "Protecting children against abuse and neglect requires the involvement of everyone—a combined effort is imperative to help families break the chains of abuse."

The child abuse prevention breakfast today brought together the Department of Public Welfare, Pennsylvania Family Support Alliance, child welfare workers, advocates and members of the General Assembly to discuss the importance of child abuse prevention in April, and throughout the year.

"This month is dedicated to prevention efforts that will keep our children safe from abuse or neglect; however, these efforts must continue all year long," Acting Secretary Beverly Mackereth said. "We know that prevention works and that every citizen can play an active role in protecting our children."

In Pennsylvania, mandated reporters are obligated by law to report any suspected child abuse and neglect. However, our citizens can also help prevent child abuse and neglect by recognizing the signs and reporting any suspected abuse to ChildLine, the department's toll-free child abuse and neglect hotline.

The ten warning signs that child abuse may be occurring or may have occurred include:
  • Unexplained injuries, such as bruises or burns;
  • Changes in behavior, such as an overly anxious or scared child, a child who is withdrawn, depressed, or more aggressive;
  • Reverting to younger behaviors, such as thumb-sucking, bed wetting, and a re-emergence of childhood fears;
  • Fear of going home;
  • Changes in sleeping or eating habits;
  • Changes in school performance and attendance;
  • Lack of hygiene or personal care;
  • Engaging in risk-taking behaviors, such as drugs and alcohol; and
  • Inappropriate behaviors, as well as a demonstration of knowledge or interest in sexual acts inappropriate to a child's age.

"Being able to identify the signs of suspected abuse or neglect is paramount to Pennsylvania's efforts," Mackereth said. "If you suspect child abuse or neglect, please don't hesitate to call our toll-free hotline. Your call could save a child's life."

During the month of April, the department encourages all Pennsylvanians to wear or display a blue ribbon as a way to signify the importance of child abuse prevention. In addition, on April 26, the department will display the Children's Memorial Flag to honor children who have died as a result of child abuse or neglect.

To report suspected child abuse or neglect, DPW offers an around-the-clock, toll-free hotline, ChildLine, 1-800-932-0313.  

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