April is National Child Abuse Awareness Month
Published: April 22, 2023
According to the Child Maltreatment Report of Alabama, more than 26,000 cases of suspected abuse were reported in 2021. However, the actual number may be higher because many instances of abuse go unreported.
Since 1995, Children’s Hospital Intervention & Prevention Services (CHIPS) at Children’s of Alabama has served as an outpatient clinic where children who have experienced suspected abuse and their families impacted by suspected abuse can come for support, hope and healing.
“We saw a true need here at the hospital for a special way to handle suspected child abuse cases so that we could focus on the children and the families,” says Debra Schneider, executive director of the CHIPS Center.
The CHIPS Center has a team of specialized physicians, nurse practitioners, nurses, social workers and counselors. This team provides forensic medical exams, therapy, and prevention education in the community and schools. The staff works with law enforcement, the Department of Human Resources and child advocacy representatives. Earlier this year, the Sunrise Clinic, which is held within the CHIPS Center, received the inaugural “Outstanding Victim Protection in Countering Human Trafficking” Award from the Center for Countering Human Trafficking (CCHT) within the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS).
This month and throughout the year, the staff encourages everyone to work together to make Central Alabama a better place for children and their families.
“We see kids get better, we see families come back to a peaceful situation, we see children who may have felt confused or betrayed regaining trust and move forward; that’s our goal,” says Schneider.
Schneider says if you suspect abuse, you should report it immediately. All it takes is a suspicion of abuse; the caller does not need specific evidence. Anyone can report suspected abuse to the local Department of Human Resources, and you can also call the Childhelp National Child Abuse Hotline at 1-800-422-4453. If a child is in immediate danger, call 911.