Guest Author - Kelli Deister
In my opinion, the best way to prevent child abuse from recurring is to have adequate programs in place to intervene in the lives of those children that are being abused. Once a phone call is made to child protective services regarding a suspicion of child abuse, there should be an investigation. Once the investigation is complete, there should be routine follow ups.
However, the reality is that most professionals in our country, such as social workers, have a heavy load of work when it comes to investigating suspicions of child abuse. I believe that our social workers have large case loads and try their best to investigate all claims or suspicions of abuse. But, I also believe that they could use more help. I cannot even begin to understand the difficulties that our social workers face on a daily basis because they are under staffed and lack adequate funding. Their hearts are there for the children; however, there is only so much they can do with their limited resources.
I think each state should have programs in place, such as other professionals that work with social workers and are trained to specifically go into the homes of the children being abused and routinely follow up. Some follow ups should be weekly and some monthly, depending on the severity of each particular case. If I am not mistaken, there are some states that have such programs; however, Iím not sure that every state has them. This is critical when it comes to child abuse.
For instance, when a social worker goes to a home on a claim of suspected child abuse and finds abuse occurring, there should be a professional, such as a guardian ad litem, appointed to that child immediately. If the abuse is not severe at the time, there should still be follow up appointments made weekly or monthly to ensure that the abuse has ceased. Just because abuse is not considered to be acute, during the initial investigation, that doesnít mean that there should be no more follow ups. Many times, parents that abuse their children work very hard at hiding all signs of abuse in the home and children are too fearful to speak up and reveal anything. There should be another follow up in the home that is unannounced. This will ensure that the social worker or other professional will see the conditions of the home for what it really is.
Whenever a professional visits with a child that is being abused by their parents, there should be programs in place to assist the parents, as well as the child. For example, the parents should be ordered to take parenting classes. Once the parents begin the classes, there should be a watchful eye kept on them to see that they are not only learning to be better parents, but also that they are applying what they learn in their lives and the lives of their children.
I am a firm believer that there are not enough funds given to state agencies that deal with child abuse. There have been many budget cuts over the years, which is a tragedy, because it means that there are not enough social workers or other professionals, due to a lack of government or state funding. Many children, across the United States, are being abused daily. When budgets are cut and funding is minimal, the children are the ones that suffer.
If we want to prevent child abuse in our country, we must provide adequate funding and appropriate programs to assist all professionals in their quest to end domestic violence and child abuse.