Nourished Minds is an online resource for individuals and families providing specialized family services, empowerment coaching, and self-help guides. Social worker Nikole Seals helps families manage and recover from challenging life events like a health crisis, mental health issues, addiction, and other common social issues.
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Would you make a child abuse report if you had suspicions? What if your partner was abusive? Learn how and when to report and why this can save a child. The post How to Report Child Abuse & Be a Protective Parent Video appeared first on Nourished...
Child Abuse & Neglect Part II: Making a Report & Being a Protective Parent
Would you make a child abuse report if you had suspicions? Reporting child abuse can feel scary and intimidating. Adults often hesitant to report concerns out of fear of getting involved or retaliation.
It’s even scarier to make a report when you’re in a relationship with the person being abusive. It’s important to remember that parents who engage in abusive behaviors are often acting out of anger, fear, or their own unresolved pain.
In this special episode of the Nourishing Bits Podcast, Nikole explains how our emotions can stop us from helping a child or push a parent to the point of becoming abusive or neglectful.
For more information, download my guides If You Suspect Abuse & Child Abuse Investigations: Know the Process, Know Your Rights
Subscribe to the Nourishing Bits Podcast: http://nourishingbits.libsyn.com/rss
The post How to Report Child Abuse & Be a Protective Parent Video appeared first on Nourished Minds.
Child abuse often goes unreported. Adults tend to dismiss or excuse away concerns because the truth is unthinkable. Here's how to recognizing the signs The post Child Abuse – How to Spot the Signs appeared first on Nourished Minds.
Child Abuse & Neglect: How to Spot the Signs
In a perfect world, there would be no such thing as child abuse. Children would be born into a home where they are valued and protected. They’d be encouraged to play, allowed to make mistakes, and live free from the fear of being hurt by an adult.
Sadly, the reality for children is very different. Child abuse and neglect is a worldwide problem. It does not discriminate. It affects persons of all races, cultures, religions, and economic and social position.
We often think of abuse as being isolated to poor communities where poverty, violence, and unemployment threaten family safety. But truth be told, abuse and neglect occur in educated and affluent families too. It’s just more likely to be reported if the family is poor. Abuse and neglect in educated and affluent families is more likely to be excused or kept secret.
A 2015 study of Child Protective Services (CPS) agencies in the United States estimated 683,000 children were victims of some form of abuse or neglect.
How You Can Help
Child abuse often goes unreported. When confronted with signs of abuse, people often dismiss or excuse away their concern because the truth is unthinkable. This is especially true if the child or abusive parent is someone we know and love. We struggle to make sense of the behavior and it’s common to have doubts. Doubts and uncertainty often come up as away to protect ourselves from the discomfort of acknowledging the possibility.
It can be easy to overlook the signs of neglect and abuse. However, doing so means a child will continue to suffer. Children may drop hints or sometimes they’ll find the courage to share their truth with a trusted adult. But if that adult fails to listen or seek help, the child can become hopeless and may not disclose to another adult.
Knowing the signs of abuse and neglect will help you to feel confident when deciding to take actions. As members of communities, we’re all responsible for protecting our youth. The first line of protection, is picking up on cues and signs that something is wrong.
Signs of Abuse
The signs and indicators of abuse can be physical like an injury or behavioral like a child who shows symptoms of depression or fear. This list is not exhaustive. One or several signs may apply to a child who has been victimized or neglected. The more warning signs you’re able to identify, the greater likelihood an act of abuse has occurred.
Definition: A parent or caregiver fails to provide the basic needs of food, clothing, and shelter; or fails to provide a safe living environment, adequate health care, education, and supervision.
- Poor hygiene, often appears dirty
- Soiled, tattered, or insufficient clothing
- Appears malnourished or is always hungry
- Poor dental hygiene, poor health, often sick
- Left unsupervised for long periods of time
- Frequent absences from school
- Physically under-developed
- Scared of being alone, fear of abandonment
- Seems depressed, anxious, withdrawn, overly compliant
Definition: Physical injury inflicted by other than accidental means upon a child by a parent or caretaker.
- Has unexplained injuries (bruises, cuts, bites, burns)
- Has many injuries in different stages of healing
- Has injuries to ears, face, ribs, back, feet
- Returns from long school absence with fading bruises
- Seems frightened of parent or caretaker
- Arrives at school early, leaves late
- Problems in school (truancy, absences)
- Is aggressive, bullies’ peers
- Seems depressed, anxious, withdrawn, fearful
Definition: The act of engaging a child or adolescent in sexual activities they do not comprehend or are unable to give consent. This includes oral sex, sodomy, genital fondling, masturbation, and exposure to sexually explicit material such as pornography.
- Difficulty walking or sitting
- Genital irritation, discharge, or pain
- Bruising, bleeding, blood-stained clothes
- Frequent urinary tract infections, STD
- Evidence of penetration without explanation
- Sleep disturbance, digestive disturbance, nightmares, headaches
- Bed-wetting, accidental defecation in underwear
- Socially withdrawn, distrust of other
- Attaches quickly to strangers
- Argumentative, moody, secretive, depressed
Definition: Any act of a parent or caretaker intended to inflict unjustifiable emotional distress or mental suffering upon a child. Examples include verbal abuse, threats, humiliation, confinement, isolation, acts that terrorize a child.
- May present with symptoms of depression, anxiety, obsessive-compulsive disorder
- May have attachment issues or socialization problems
- Regressive or delayed development
- Struggles with self-worth, trust
- Academic difficulties and development problems
- Exhibits phobias or fear of rejection
- Aggressive, non-compliant, withdrawn, or avoidance behavior
- Engages in delinquent behavior, substance abuse, suicidal thoughts
If you would like more information on how to talk with kids about abuse or how to file a child abuse report, download my self-guide, If You Suspect Abuse: A Guide for Concerned Friends, Family, and Protective Parents.
U.S. Department of Health & Human Services, Administration for Children and Families, Administration
on Children, Youth and Families, Children’s Bureau. (2017). Child Maltreatment 2015. Available from
When a child experiences or witnesses a trauma or act of violence, it can have a devastating effect on their mental health. Being a well-informed parent can make all the difference for your child's recovery and your peace of mind. The post Signs of Traumatic Stress in Kids appeared first on Nourished...
One of the most difficult truths of parenting is that you can’t always protect your child. An increasing number of children are exposed to acts of violence. Even witnessing traumatic events can leave kids feeling fearful and unsafe. If you think your child is having difficulties coping, it’s important you know the signs and symptoms of Child Traumatic Stress. Being informed will make all the difference for your child’s recovery and your peace of mind.
- Approximately 1 in 4 children will experience some type of traumatic event before the age of sixteen. A child may suffer symptoms of depression, anxiety, fear and feelings of guilt, whether they were a trauma victim or a witness to the trauma.
If these emotions go unresolved and persist for more than a month, your child could be suffering from Child Traumatic Stress, a term used to describe symptoms of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) in children and adolescents. Recognizing the signs of PTSD in young children is difficult since they may not be able to verbalize their feelings. For this reason, parents should watch for changes in a child’s behavior in the aftermath of a crisis.
PTSD typically occurs in children who have witnessed or experienced an event involving death, the threat of death, serious physical injury, or a threat to their physical safety.
Some common childhood traumas include:
- Car accidents
- Serious injury
- Serious medical diagnosis and procedures
- Natural disasters
- Acts of terrorism
- School violence
Signs & Indicators of PTSD in Children
There are several key indicators to be watchful of after your child has experienced some type of trauma. You may want to seek the help of a professional if your child exhibits any of the following behaviors:
- Continues to experience the event in the form of thoughts, flashbacks, dreams, or phobias
- Avoids anything associated with the event like where it happened, people involved, or thoughts
- Has difficulty sleeping, concentrating, or experiences mood swings
- Expresses fear verbally or in the form of crying, screaming, freezing-up, tantrums, scared to separate from family members, or starts to act younger than their age
- May see changes in their impulse control or ability to concentrate
- School-age kids may experience problems in school or refuse to attend school
- Child may get very attached to parents or isolate themselves from family and peers
- Teens may engage in disruptive behavior, eating difficulties, sexual acting out, substance abuse, self-injurious behaviors or suicidal thoughts
What Empowered Parents Can Do
How a child recovers from trauma largely depends on several factors. Age, developmental level, and severity of the trauma will influence how a child reacts. But the greatest influence on a child’s reaction is the parent’s reactions. Your emotional resilience, or lack thereof, is a guiding agent for your kids.
Research shows that parents who respond to trauma with reassuring supportive action can greatly reduce the likelihood of their child suffering PTSD symptoms. Your child will be looking to you to gauge how they should be reacting.
Role modeling healthy coping skills can have a powerful impact on your child’s healing. Be very cautious about letting your own fears stop you from talking with your child. It’s appropriate to let your child know that you feel fear too. Sharing stories of how you have overcome your fears in the past can be very helpful as well.
Family counseling is an effective way to help reduce a child’s fear associated with the trauma. If you believe that your child has signs of PTSD, you should seek the professional help of a clinician who specializes in trauma-focused therapy. It’s critical that parents and family members be involved in treatment to encourage an environment of support, understanding, and reassurance for the child.
American Psychiatric Association. (2000). Diagnostic and statistical manual of mental disorders: DSM-IV-TR (4th Ed.). Washington, DC.
Lubit, R. H. (2010). Post-traumatic stress disorder in children. emedicine from WebMD. Retrieved September 29, 2011, from http://emedicine.medscape.com/article/918844-overview
McNally, R. J. (2009). Posttraumatic Stress Disorder. In Sadock, B. J., Sadock, V. A., & Ruiz, P. (Eds.), Comprehensive textbook of psychiatry, (9th ed.), (pp. 2650-2660). Philadelphia, PA: Lippincott Williams & Wilkins.
Sibling abuse is one of the most common forms of family violence and the least reported. To prevent and stop sibling abuse, we must first know the difference between normal sibling interaction and abusive behaviors The post Is It Sibling Rivalry or Abuse? appeared first on Nourished...
Sibling abuse is one of the least reported forms of family violence. In past years, sibling abuse was considered a private family matter, not to be discussed outside the home. Today, it is recognized as one of the most common forms of family violence. We know that children who have suffered abuse by a sibling are more likely to experience adjustment problems, have low self-esteem, bully others, and engage self-harming behaviors. The first step in prevention is to know the difference between normal sibling interaction and abusive behaviors.
Rivalry or Abuse?
If you’re a parent with combative children, you may be used to a certain degree of rough-housing and battling in your home. This type of interaction may start to feel normal over time, which makes it difficult to know when it crosses the line. The challenge for parents is to determine when an action is normal developmental behavior between siblings versus when it crosses the line into being abusive.
Sibling rivalry differs from sibling abuse in that it typically consists of isolated incidents that are age appropriate. Both children are mutually aggressive versus there being one dominant aggressor. With sibling rivalry, conflicts are related to specific incidents such as fighting over household privileges. These types of interactions are usually based on an underlying need for attention and significance.
An effective way to determine if an interaction is abusive is by identifying the intent and impact of the act. Unlike sibling rivalry, the goal or intent of sibling abuse is for the aggressor to establish dominance over a sibling or inflict harm to a sibling. To achieve this goal, the aggressor may use physical force in the form of hitting, kicking, pushing, slapping, biting, pinching, choking and hair pulling.
An aggressor may also be emotionally abusive to a sibling through use of intimidation, belittling, threats, torture, or destruction of sibling’s property. In some cases, the aggressor’s need to exert power and control over a sibling can be acted out in the form of sexual abuse. The severity and motivation for sibling abuse vary based on a child’s age and is strongly influenced by family relationship dynamics and cultural trends.
Examining Your Parenting Beliefs
Some parents feel that aggression between siblings is expected and teaches children how to manage conflict. You may be unknowingly holding beliefs or engaging in behaviors that encourage or re-enforce sibling rivalry and abuse. Studies show parents are often unaware they are promoting sibling abuse by minimizing or ignoring the abuse, blaming the victim, or responding inappropriately by using physical discipline with the abusive sibling.
What we know for sure is that children learn the rules of relationship conduct from their parents. This learning process is called role modeling and it’s the standard way in which children learn how to engage and interact others; and more specifically, with their siblings. Children are at a significant risk of being an abuser or a victim of sibling abuse if they have witnessed their parents engage in domestic violence or abuse of a child. Children are also at risk of sibling abuse when parents are unwilling or unable to help them resolve conflict or parents promote sibling rivalry by playing favorites.
What Empowered Parents Do
Sibling abuse and conflict are less likely to occur in households where there is regular and consistent parental supervision. As the parent, it is important to role model effective communication skills and conflict resolution skills for your children. Aggressive behaviors among children need to be stopped before children graduate to more extreme acts of violence towards one another.
If you feel that you are unable to address the issue on your own, you should seek the assistance of a qualified counselor or family therapist for support and guidance.
Don’t let your circumstances define you. Feeling lost is our soul’s way of letting us know we have disconnected from our true sense of self. Dream. Imagine. Remember who you are meant to be. Become bigger than your circumstances. The post Know Your Truth appeared first on Nourished...
Don’t let your circumstances define you. Feeling lost is our soul’s way of letting us know we have disconnected from our true sense of self. Dream. Imagine. Remember who you are meant to be. Become bigger than your circumstances.
We think our actions are independent and based on the information in front of us. But the reality is that are actions are determined by our beliefs. The post Our Beliefs Determine Our Actions appeared first on Nourished Minds.
Our beliefs are the driving force behind why we do what we do. “Belief systems” are the governing rules of our lives. It’s described as a system because it addresses the many different types of rules that we create for ourselves or that society creates for us.
We have beliefs to govern our morals and values; our identity and how we present to the world; our perspective and how we view things such as religion, race, time; our behavior and how we treat others; how we navigate and sustain life; and how we process information and use information.
Why We Get Frustrated
One of the greatest sources of internal conflict and feelings of imbalance is when your beliefs don’t match up with your current life experiences or your priorities. For example, if you believe that you need to marry a Catholic, yet you have fallen in love with someone Jewish, you will experience internal conflict. You may even decide to end the relationship based on what you believe. A loving relationship is a priority for you, but it doesn’t match your belief about marriage.
As children, we adopt beliefs from our parents. As teens, we adopt the beliefs of influential peers. As consumers, we adopt beliefs from what we hear from ads, reviews, the news, and science. “Milk does a body good.” “Skinny Women Are Pretty.”
We also create beliefs to protect ourselves from experiencing pain, loss, or failure. “It is against my religion to get divorced.” “Education costs money.” “Money can buy happiness.”
When our beliefs are adopted from others, it increases the likelihood that they won’t match up with our own life experiences and desires. A young man can spend thousands of dollars and several years of time and energy attending law school only to pass the bar and feel a sense of longing and discontent.
See, he really wanted to be an artist. He grew up being told that he would be an attorney like his father and like most kids, he adopted this belief. He also held the belief that being an attorney will earn him his father’s respect. He felt discontent because his belief did not match his desired goal of being an artist.
Living a Flexible life means we must recognize that our beliefs need to be flexible too. They are not set in stone. In fact, beliefs should evolve and change with our lives and goals. A flexible belief system allows for adjustments to be made as needed.
This doesn’t mean that you need to change all your beliefs. It simply means that you should take the time to assess which beliefs you hold are no longer serving you or are based on false information.
If you’d like additional guidance on updating your beliefs, get a copy of my self-help guide, Finding Your Life Balance.
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