(Beaver Dam) April is Child Abuse Prevention Month and officials with Dodge County’s only domestic violence shelter are using the occasion to raise awareness of the issue. PAVE’s child advocacy program offers safety planning, counseling, and support groups to both victims of abuse as well as children affected by domestic violence.
Teen and Child Advocate Amanda Meixner says abuse often takes place at home at the hands of a person the child knows well including a parent, relative, babysitter or a friend of the family. She says signs a child is being abuse can include poor hygiene, unexplained bruises or welts, appears frightened of parent or caregiver and age-inappropriate sexual play.
Meixner says there are varying degrees of abuse outside of physical assault including verbal, neglect and trafficking. During last week’s appearance on WBEV’s Community Comment, Meixner shared some ways a person could help a child who has been abused such as help them feel safe, help them express and manage their emotions, help them understand their trauma as well as support and promote healthy and stable relationships.
Meixner says if a person suspects child abuse they should contact their local authorities. She says when calling they should have the child’s name, their relationship to the suspected abuser, what the person seen or heard about the abuse and the names of others who may have knowledge of the situation. Anyone who wishes to report domestic abuse, child abuse, or wants to know more about the effects of violence on children can call PAVE at their crisis line 800-775-3785, or 920-887-3810.