What makes people prone to child abuse? - Fox 28: South Bend, Elkhart IN News, Weather, Sports

What makes people prone to child abuse?

Children at a playground Children at a playground
SOUTH BEND - A South Bend four month old is in critical condition. Police preliminarily charged her father with neglect. This case isn't isolated. Child abuse is more prevalent in our area than you might expect. In April 2014 alone, there were a total of 166 cases of abuse in Elkhart, Kosciusko, Marshall, and St. Joseph Counties.  

We all know raising children comes with its highs and lows, but, unfortunately, we're hearing more and more lately about parents neglecting or abusing their children.

"I mean there's days you get stressed, but take them to the movies or take them to the park or the zoo. There's other ways around it or call a babysitter. It's never okay to put your hands on a child," said Oaklawn Psychiatric Center's Sandy Westra says a person's environment and past experiences can make them more likely to mistreat a child. 

"Anytime you have more and more stressors on a family or on an individual it becomes harder and harder for them to behave in the ways that they might under other circumstances," Westra said.

Stressors like money issues, domestic violence, neighborhood violence, and lack of maturity. She says, without care, the abuse often continues generation after generation.

"In mental health services, there's probably a 90% frequency of people who have had many adverse childhood experiences," Westra said.  

Westra says she's actually surprised the number of substantiated abuse cases aren't higher in our area and says many are left unproven or unreported. Still, there are things we can do. Westra says a community based approach can help minimize child abuse. She says in the past there were more multi-generational households where parents had help. Today, it's different.

"One thing that you could do is offer to help and that would be providing the kind of support," Westra said.

The community also offers a variety of programs like Healthy Families, which offers parent education through voluntary home visits.

Some other websites to consult:


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