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Regarding child abuse, what does ‘awareness’ really mean?

April 30, 2013

What does “awareness” really mean?

April is National Child Abuse Awareness month. I believe we’re all aware that thousands of children endure terrible abuse every day in this country. Often, our staff at Youth Villages help kids overcome devastating emotional and physical trauma caused by abuse.

Patrick W. Lawler, Youth Villages CEO

Patrick W. Lawler, Youth Villages CEO

In the case of child abuse, awareness means more than just knowing about the extent of the problem. Learn to recognize common indicators and how to report a suspected instance of abuse to the proper authorities.

The U.S. Department of Health & Human Services offers a fact sheet with tips on how to recognize signs of physical abuse, neglect, sexual abuse and emotional maltreatment. I urge you to take just a few minutes to read it so you can be vigilant about the children in your life.

If you do suspect abuse, call your state’s hotline to report it. Please see the full list on and bookmark the page or write down the number for your state.

Being aware of a problem is a tiny first step in solving that problem. Prepare yourself with the right information and don’t be afraid to act when a child’s safety is at stake.

At Youth Villages, we believe that building strong, healthy families for children helps break cycles of dysfunction and worse. Our high success rates show the wisdom of this approach. Together, we can make a better future for our most vulnerable, our children.

Patrick Lawler is CEO of Youth Villages, a national child services nonprofit that helps emotionally and behaviorally troubled children and their families through its Evidentiary Family Restoration™ approach.

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