What should you do if you think a child is being abused?
As someone who just adopted two children from the foster care system, my heart aches to hear about the death of three-year-old Kayleigh Slusher. Our now-adopted kids faced neglect and abuse early in their lives. It’s heartbreaking to read their files. I’m so thankful they’re in our home now! I’m thankful for their advocates who spoke up, saving them! (Does this issue weigh on your heart? Tune into Nancy Grace tonight on HLN to hear more about the story.)
All of us need to pay attention, and if there are warning signs we need to say something.
Warning Sign #1
You can question if a child is safe by the company her parents keep.
1 Corinthians 15:33 says, “Bad company corrupts good character” (NLT). Kayleigh’s mom, Sara, was trying to overcome her addictions, but according to news reports her new boyfriend took her south . . . fast.
Are you wondering if a child is safe? Look at the company her mother is keeping. If there are unsavory characters around and drug use, domestic disputes, and other immoral behavior, the child is not safe.
Warning Sign #2
You can question if a child is safe by the child’s access to loving, caring adults. If the child is hidden away and not allowed to play with other kids or be around caring adults, the parent is hiding something. A hidden-away child is not a safe child.
Warning Sign #3
You can question if a child is safe if the child is making excuses for her parent. New reports state that police questioned Kayleigh twice. She no doubt stood up for her mom. Children will say what they must to protect their parents; sadly parents won’t do what they need to to protect their kids. If a child is having to make excuses for her parent, then you should question what that parent is hiding. A child who feels she has to protect is not safe.
Do these warning signs remind you of a child you know? If so, what should you do?
1. Call for help.
The Childhelp National Child Abuse Hotline 1-800-4-A-CHILD (1-800-422-4453) is dedicated to the prevention of child abuse. Serving the United States, its territories, and Canada, the hotline is staffed 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, with professional crisis counselors who, through interpreters, can provide assistance in 170 languages.
The Hotline offers crisis intervention, information, literature, and referrals to thousands of emergency, social service, and support resources. All calls are anonymous and confidential.
2. If help isn’t given, keep knocking on doors.
God placed you in that child’s life for a reason. Be an advocate. Matthew 18:5 says, “And whoever welcomes one such child in my name welcomes me.”
There are also a few other things to consider: Don’t just make the call. Be the answer!
Become a foster parent. If Kayleigh had been removed from her mother’s home, she would have been placed into the home of a foster family—a home where she’d be cared for and watched over. Sadly there are often more children than families available. Be the answer: consider becoming a foster family.
Adopt from foster care. We had many hard months, but with the combination of behavior therapy, unconditional love, and a happy home, my kids are doing well! There are a few hundred thousand kids in the foster care system who need homes. If loving families stood up to help JUST ONE, it would make a huge difference! Be the answer for ONE!