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Pediatric Health

Know the Truth About Child Abuse

Facts About Child Abuse May Be Shocking

January 01, 2011
When it comes to child abuse, there is a lot we don't know.

For example, many people believe that child abuse is not very prevalent. But, according to Shannon Coffey, M.D., co-medical director of the Child Protection Team at Peyton Manning Children's Hospital at St. Vincent, the unfortunate truth is that with 109,000 suspected cases last year in Indiana (and those are only the reported ones), child abuse is far from rare. In fact, a breakdown of the number of confirmed cases translates into two to three child victims in every Indiana classroom.

Others want to believe that child abuse happens, but "not in my neighborhood." Again, not true. Child abuse crosses all geographic, economic, educational and racial levels.

And when it comes to sexual abuse, there's a misperception that it really only happens to girls. While it's true that sexual abuse is more prevalent with girls (or, at least there are more reported cases involving girls), statistics show boys are very much at risk, as well. In fact, one in every four to six boys are sexually abused.

Perhaps the most damaging myth people believe is that there's nothing they can do to help a child being abused. According to Dr. Coffey, it could be your voice and intervention that is the one thing that saves a child.

So, what can you do?

First of all, know the signs and symptoms of child abuse. Dr. Coffey has provided a list of some of the most common effects or behaviors associated with physical abuse, neglect and sexual abuse.


• Unexplained bruises (in various stages of healing)

• Unexplained fractures, lacerations or abrasions

• Burns by cigarettes

• Evidence of delayed or inappropriate treatment for injuries

• Self-destructive or violent behavior

• Abnormal amount of absences


• Lack of supervision

• Regularly hungry/hoards food

• Poor hygiene

• Craves affection

• Physical or emotional delays


• Pain/swelling or bruising/bleeding of genital area

• Inappropriate sexual play or acting out

• High-risk behaviors

• Suicide attempts

• Emotional delays

Secondly, if you suspect a child is being abused or neglected, call the Department of Child Services at 1-800-800-5556. Your call can be anonymous, and the hotline is open 24/7.

Drive out child abuse

Another way you can help child abuse victims is by ordering a Peyton Manning Children's Hospital at St.Vincent license plate.

"The monies from the sale of plates support the hospital's Child Protection Team, which provides all aspects of child abuse care, from prevention, education and community outreach, to diagnosis and after-diagnosis care and support," Dr. Coffey shares.

How to order: You can order the plate by requesting it at your neighborhood Bureau of Motor Vehicles. If renewing your license plate by mail or online, simply indicate on the renewal form that you would like to purchase the Peyton Manning Children's Hospital at St.Vincent plate.

Cost: The cost of the plate is $40 annually. $25 will benefit the Child Protection Team at Peyton Manning Children's Hospital at St.Vincent.

Questions? Call 317-233-6000, or visit the Indiana Bureau of Motor Vehicles.

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Tags: Kids, Local

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