When children are experiencing abuse, it’s normally the daycare workers, teachers, aunts, uncles and coaches who notice.
“Kids aren’t seeing the people they’d normally report to,” says Lori Vanderburg, Executive Director of Dawson Place Child Advocacy Center. “Our numbers dropped by about half in March, and our fear is that kids are still being abused — in fact the numbers may be higher. Family violence tends to go up in times of stress.”
Not all children show the same signs of abuse, but it’s important to care and monitor the children in your life. You might be the only one who notices, and can advocate for their safety.
Learn the signs of child abuse
- Changes in behavior: Reverting to old habits like thumb-sucking or bed-wetting, acting more aggressive or overly compliant, engaging in risky behaviors including substance abuse or breaking the law.
- Lack of personal care and hygiene: Children who appear uncared for, dirty, or have insufficient clothing may be suffering from neglect.
- Changes in eating and sleeping: Stress, fear and anxiety causes some children to sleep more or have trouble sleeping, so you might notice fatigue. Children may also eat more or lose their appetite.
Read more about these signs and others at dawsonplace.org/10-signs-of-child-abuse.
Help is here
Dawson Place is five organizations under one roof at the corner of California and Hoyt in downtown Everett, all committed to helping children facing abuse. Snohomish County detectives and prosecutors, nurse practitioners, child advocates and therapists work together to help keep children safe. If you or someone you know is experiencing or being threatened with physical, sexual or emotional abuse, or has been witness to homicide or trauma, Dawson Place is here to help.
When you call the center (425-789-3000) or the 24-hour hotline (425-252-4800) there’s no pressure to disclose, and you’ll learn what options are available to you or a child in your life. You’ll be connected with an advocate who can give you information and advice.
“If you share enough detail, our advocates are required by law to report, but you can consult without giving details,” Vanderburg says. “It’s very common to be concerned about upsetting social dynamics, and economic stability if the abuser provides significant family income.”
Children ages 0-22 can get connected to therapy — and therapy dogs — and families can also participate in group sessions. Dawson Place brings all the necessary services under one roof so children only have to disclose their story once. Advocates will support families through the entire process at no cost, and connect them to helpful services.