April is National Child Abuse Prevention Month, a time to raise awareness of child maltreatment and how to prevent it in our community.
The Washington State Department of Early Learning uses pinwheels to represent its campaign to urge people to learn more about prevention and supporting children and their families.
“The health and well-being of our children is all of our concern,” Dr. Ronald Spiegel, Pediatrician at Snoqualmie Ridge Medical Clinic, said. “Medical providers rely on community members to report any treatment of a child they see that is concerning or inappropriate.”
Child maltreatment is any type of abuse or neglect of a child under the age of 18 that results in harm or injury. There are four common types of abuse: physical, sexual, emotional and neglect or abandonment.
Maltreatment causes stress in children that can affect school, family life, physical and mental health.
“The goal is to stop child maltreatment before it starts,” Spiegel said. “The best way to prevent it is to seek help if you’re feeling overwhelmed by circumstances in your life, including financial worries, marital problems and substance abuse. Counseling and community programs can help prevent things from escalating to the level of maltreatment.”
Local programs to prevent child abuse and neglect also improve parent-child relationships and provide parents with social support. A few local support organizations include LifeWire, Encompass and Friends of Youth.
“We live in a great area with lots of family activities, good schools and excellent support systems to help in stressful times,” Spiegel said. “Our Snoqualmie Ridge Medical Clinic providers are available through our call service 24 hours a day to help steer people towards the support they may need.”
Each type of child abuse comes with its own unique symptoms. It’s up to adults who are in a position to notice recurring symptoms of abuse, to act before the situation escalates.
If you suspect a child may be mistreated, call your medical provider, Child Protective Services or the police.
Snoqualmie Ridge Medical Clinic is located at 35020 S.E. Kinsey St., Snoqualmie. Go to Snoqualmie Ridge Medical Clinic or call 425-396-7682 for more information.