April is Child Abuse Awareness and Prevention Month and here on the Central Coast, families and communities are working together to prevent child abuse.
Eli Salgado, a mother and college student, was able to break the chain of abuse and neglect in her family.
“It’s not just abuse, it’s not just hitting, it’s neglect as well. There are many forms of abuse,” she said.
With adequate resources, she has been able to move forward and is now helping others.
“I like to give back to my community and give back to people who need the help and don’t know that it’s there,” Salgado said, adding that prevention is key.
San Luis Obispo County has a multitude of resources available but in most cases, a child won’t be the one to reach out.
“Sometimes, kids are scared to say what is happening at home or they don’t know how to say it or how to ask for help or they are scared that they are going to get in trouble for it,” Salgado said.
She says that’s when the community comes in, to report anything suspicious and speak up when things don’t look right.
“As a community, we all have a responsibility to the children that are here,” said Teresa Tardiff, Executive Director for Court Appointed Special Advocates (CASA).
A child who’s being abused may feel guilty, ashamed or confused.
Experts say signs to look out for include:
- Rebellious or defiant behavior
- Delayed or inappropriate emotional development
- Unexplained injuries, such as bruises, fractures or burns
- Loss of self-confidence or self-esteem
- Withdrawal from friends or usual activities
“If there is domestic violence between parents or people that live together, we do consider that child abuse because it is traumatic for a child,” explained Katie Robinson, CASA Director.
In San Luis Obispo County alone, there are approximately 500 children in the foster care system because of abuse and neglect.
If you witness, hear or suspect child abuse or neglect, you are asked to call the hotline (805) 781-KIDS.