News | Published February 24, 2014

Trying to understand child abuse

Approximately 3.5 million cases of child abuse, including physical and sexual abuse, are reported in the United States each year. It can be hard to understand how this horrible act could happen to any child, let alone to this magnitude.

While prevention is ideal, we know that abuse of children is a permanent part of our society – making it necessary to look out for signs of trouble. Children can react to sexual and physical abuse in different ways, depending on the situation and the child. Some of the signs of child abuse can include acting out in an inappropriate, sexual way with toys or objects; withdrawal in social activities; unexplainable fear of particular places or people; mood swings; outbursts or anger; and physical signs like bruising and broken bones.

I encourage every adult to undergo training with the Stewards of Children. It is eye opening and gives great training in recognizing the signs of child abuse. The Stewards of Children ONLINE Prevention Training teaches adults how to prevent, recognize and react responsibly to child sexual abuse. The online training costs only $10 and takes about two hours to complete.

As Centre County moves forward with opening its own child advocacy center, we are improving the care of children who have been abused or neglected. The Children’s Advocacy Center of Centre County, which fully opened this month, is located at Mount Nittany Health’s office at 129 Medical Parke Lane in Bellefonte. The Children’s Advocacy Center uses a child-centered approach to support children who have been abused and help them recover from a physical or emotional tragedy. It is a safe, child and family-friendly space where kids can come on a non-emergent basis for evaluation and treatment of abuse.

For more information on the Children’s Advocacy Center, visit