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Child abuse can happen to any child under the age of 18 years old. While it is a difficult subject to learn about and to talk about, it is important for nurses to know the warning signs and how to handle possible child abuse situations. I decided to research specifically, the toddler age group for this discussion. According to Mayo Clinic, child abuse can occur in many forms such as physical abuse, sexual abuse, emotional abuse, medical abuse and/or neglect. Unfortunately, many times there are multiple types of abuse happening simultaneously. “A child who’s being abused may feel guilty, ashamed or confused.” (Mayoclinic.com, 2018). Some warning signs of possible child abuse may be changes in behavior, anxiety, reluctance to leave with parents, and social withdrawal. Nurses should be aware of physical assessment findings such as unexplained bruises, injuries, burns and fractures. Some examples of emotional assessment findings in an abused toddler are regression, depression, seeking affection, loss of interest and loss of self-esteem and confidence.
There a many resources available nationally and locally. Childhelp National Child Abuse Hotline (1-800-422-4453) is a free hotline that can be accessed 24/7. Another resource is Prevent Child Abuse America (1-800-244-5373). As a nurse at my hospital, I am required to go directly to my charge nurse or my supervisor to report any signs of abuse and she takes the case from there. I am fairly new though so I’m unsure as to what happens after that. I’m sure there is a protocol that has to be followed. Locally, we also have an organization called Wicomico Child Advocacy Center which provides assistance for children who are at risk or are victims of child abuse.