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You’ve probably crossed paths with a child suffering from abuse. You might not have known it – kids are adept at hiding the signs. But what can you do about it if you suspect abuse?


According to Childhelp, “Every year more than 3 million reports of child abuse are made in the United States involving more than 6 million children (a report can include multiple children).”

According to the CDC, 27% of abuse victims were aged three years and under.

Even with these staggering numbers, child abuse remains underreported.

Unfortunately, understanding the reality of child abuse and the laws around it was part of my previous life as summer camp Program Director, and from working for the YMCA and other school-age programs.

To better recognize, prevent, and raise awareness of child abuse, here’s what you can do to help.

First, What Is Child Abuse?

Child abuse manifests in physical, sexual, and emotional abuse and neglect. It can be a singular incident or occur over time. Child abuse is regarded as:

  • injury
  • death
  • risk of physical or emotional harm

It is caused by the active or negligent behavior of parents, caregivers, or someone in a custodial relationship with the child such as a coach or teacher.

Though child abuse certainly includes physical harm, the stress induced by maltreatment can cause delays in brain development, plus that of the nervous and immune systems, which then can lead greater issues such as alcoholism, chronic illness, and depression in adult life.

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Recognizing Child Abuse

Child AbuseThere are many physical and behavioral signs that indicate that a child may be suffering from each type of abuse.

For example, for physical abuse (intentional injury to a child)  the signs include visible injuries on different places of the body that a child may be unable to explain.

A child suffering from physical abuse may demonstrate aggressive behavior and fear, wearing long-sleeves inappropriate to the weather, immaturity, and emotional or behavior issues.

Alternatively, sexual abuse, which 29.7% of adults report as having experienced as children, can present itself in different manners and diverges from the signs of physical abuse.

A child suffering sexual abuse may demonstrate physical signs such as having problems sitting or symptoms of sexually transmitted diseases. Behavioral signs include anxiety and aggression, not wanting to change clothes for gym class, nightmares and problems sleeping, or communicating a advanced understanding of sex towards peers or adults.

Emotional abuse, related to mental and social development, typically occurs long-term and can include the humiliation, rejection, terrorization, or isolation of the child. Children experiencing emotional abuse may be developmentally delayed, have speech problems or learning disabilities, or health and weight issues in addition to between emotional extremes and exhibiting anti-social behavior.

Child neglect occurs when the child does not receive the care and support necessary for his or her “health, safety and well-being.” Child neglect is characterized by physical, emotional, medical, and educational neglect.

Though the signs of each type of neglect vary, neglect generally persists as part of an overall pattern. A child suffering from neglect may not have appropriately sized or weather-related clothing, is consistently hungry or tired, may be smaller than most kids the same age, or have medical problems that have not been taken care of.

Disclosing Child Abuse

Sometimes a child may try to disclose abuse in an indirect way, such as by saying it happened to a friend or that he or she had heard about abuse happening to someone else.

If a child communicates that he or she has experienced abuse, be supporting and calm, and reassure the child that you believe what they have told you. Also, provide a supportive environment by listening without passing judgment.

The most important questions to ask – if these answers are not clear after the initial disclosure – are what happened, where, when, and who did it as these are the most critical answers to communicate to authorities.   

Reporting Child Abuse

Unfortunately, child abuse is often not reported due to inadequate awareness regarding abuse and neglect and respective state laws. People with good intentions also fear making a situation worse, or thinking that someone else will intervene.

What You Should Do

You should report suspected child abuse if you have “reasonable cause, suspicion or belief based on your observations.”  It’s that simple.

Reporting abuse or neglect can protect a child and get help for a family it may even save a child’s life.

Child Welfare Information Gateway recommends contacting Childhelp, a national organization that provides crisis assistance and other counseling and referral services.

Childhelp is staffed 24 hours a day, seven days a week, with professional crisis counselors who have access to a database of 55,000 emergency, social service, and support resources. All calls are anonymous. Contact them at 1.800.4.A.CHILD (1.800.422.4453).

You can also call your local child welfare agency, available at http://www.childwelfare.gov or contact 911 or local law enforcement in an emergency.

A comprehensive list of websites, phone numbers and other resources can be found at Childwelfare.gov/organizations/

A Note About Mandatory Reporters

In each State, there are different regulations regarding mandatory reporters who are required by law to report child abuse.

Mandatory reporters are professionals who are in regular contact with children such as social workers, teachers, nurses, doctors, counselors, child care providers, and law enforcement officers.

In New York State, for example, directors of day and/or overnight summer camps and mental health professionals or anyone who reasonably suspects that a child is being abused are also included mandatory reporters.

Note that in some States, any person who suspects child abuse or neglect is required to report it.

Preventing Child Abuse

Ultimately, preventing child abuse begins with creating safe and supportive environments for children and fostering healthy relationships. It is critical to emphasize and consciously develop “safe, stable, and nurturing relationships (SSNRs).”

Improved parent-child relationships and active communication are two examples of strategies to prevent maltreatment in the first instance.

Child Abuse

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Sometimes it can feel like toys are a mama's frenemy. While we love the idea of entertaining our children and want to give them items that make them happy, toys can end up taking the joy out of our own motherhood experience. For every child begging for another plastic figurine, there's a mama who spends her post-bedtime hours digging toys out from under the couch, dining room table and probably her own bed.

Like so many other moms, I've often found myself between this rock and hard place in parenting. I want to encourage toys that help with developmental milestones, but struggle to control the mess. Is there a middle ground between clutter and creative play?

Enter: Lovevery.

lovevery toys

Lovevery Play Kits are like the care packages you wish your child's grandparent would send every month. Expertly curated by child development specialists, each kit is crafted to encourage your child's current developmental milestones with beautiful toys and insightful activity ideas for parents. A flip book of how-tos and recommendations accompanies each box, giving parents not only tips for making the most of each developmental stage, but also explaining how the games and activities benefit those growing brains.

Even better, the toys are legitimately beautiful. Made from eco-friendly, sustainable materials materials and artfully designed, I even find myself less bothered when my toddler leaves hers strewn across the living room floor.

What I really love, though, is that the kits are about so much more than toys. Each box is like a springboard of imaginative, open-ended play that starts with the included playthings and expands into daily activities we can do during breakfast or while driving to and from lessons. For the first time, I feel like a company isn't just trying to sell me more toys―they're providing expert guidance on how to engage in educational play with my child. And with baby kits that range from age 0 to 12 months and toddler kits for ages 13 to 24 months, the kits are there for me during every major step of development I'll encounter as a new mama.

So maybe I'll never love toys―but I will always love spending time with my children. And with Lovevery's unique products, mixing those worlds has become child's play.


This article was sponsored by Lovevery. Thank you for supporting the brands that support Motherly and mamas.

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Breastfeeding is not easy. But neither is weaning. That's why this powerful photo from Brazilian mama Maya Vorderstrasse is going viral. Her husband captured the first time she ever breastfed their second daughter and next to it, almost two years later, the last time she fed their daughter from her breast.

And it's not just the photo that is powerful. In her caption Maya shares her emotional struggles with weaning and the tricks they used to make this transition easier for their youngest daughter. The caption reads:

"The first and last time my precious daughter ever nursed.

I didn't know that one person could feel so proud and so broken at the same time, right now I am a hormonal, emotional, and mental mess.

Raising my arm in this picture was very difficult for me as I had to fight through uncontrollable tears: this picture meant that I would never breastfeed my daughter ever again. I have been nursing for so long, that I don't know what it's like to not nurse anymore.



As I looked behind the camera, my husband is crying like I had never seen him cry before, like seriously, a deep gut cry. I was her comfort, her safe place, and I hope she still finds me that way. A month shy of 2 years old, she finally has a bed in a shared bedroom with her sister. We bought her her first bed, used any distraction we could come up with, snacks and new toys to keep her mind off of it.

My husband has taken over bedtime completely, including all nighttime wakings. We are on our third day, and every day gets a little bit easier. The guilt I feel for not putting her to bed is so intense and I can't wait to go back to it once she doesn't ask to nurse anymore. Closing a chapter is painful, but I am hopeful that this new season of our lives will also be special in its own way.

Through this maturation step she will not only grow more independent, but I will get a much needed break. She unlatched for the last time and sobbingly I said to my husband: "I did my best". He hugged me and responded with: "No. You did THE best, because you gave her your all". I love my family and am so thankful for such special and unforgettable moments like these. 💛

*my lazy boob has no clue about what's going on, but thoughts and prayers are accepted for my good one, I really think it might explode🤱🏻

**thank you to my husband, for insisting on filming this, I will treasure this forever.🤳🏼👩"

You've got this mama!

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If you're looking for basics for the kids for summer, you're in luck, mama. Primary clothes don't have logos or sparkles—they're classic prints and colors that can easily transition from one kid to the next. And this week, Primary is celebrating the new season with a major summer sale.

Items, like swimsuits, dresses, polos and more, are over 50% off. Most pieces are under $10 so you can stock up on an entire new wardrobe without breaking the budget.

Here's what we're adding to our carts—shop the entire sale here:

1. Baby rainbow stripe rash guard

With UPF 50, you can rest easy knowing baby has extra protection outdoors.

$14.50

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2. The track short

The easy pull-on waist will make outfit changes a breeze.

$10.50

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3. Rainbow stripe one-piece

Cute? Check. Will stay in place? Check. UPF 50? Check.

$18.00

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4. The short sleeve twirly dress

Made of 100% cotton jersey, this one will be a staple all summer long.

$10.00

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5. The polo babysuit

Perfect to dress up or down.

$8.00

SHOP

Motherly is your daily #momlife manual; we are here to help you easily find the best, most beautiful products for your life that actually work. We share what we love—and we may receive a commission if you choose to buy. You've got this.

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Being an adult is no joke. Beyond dressing ourselves and our kids and, ya know, feeding and bathing everyone, there are so many other things that life throws at us. And because we're adults, we have to take care of these myriad to-dos. Welcome to: Adulting!

I'm not just talking laundry, filling up your car's gas tank and stocking the fridge with groceries. Getting life insurance. Refinancing your loan debt. (Students loans? Us, too.) Marriage counseling. Yep—I'm talking about all the cringe-inducing to-dos that you've likely been putting off for a few months… or years.

But guess what? Because it's 2019 and a little something called technology exists, these seemingly heavy-lift tasks are now a whole lot easier and faster to tackle. Here's how to check off your most tedious adulting chores.

The life insurance

When you're a single with no descendants, life insurance doesn't seem like a top priority. But when you suddenly have a kid (or three), setting your family up for longterm financial success is a must. And thanks to Ladders, obtaining a policy isn't the taxing, cringe-inducing process it used to be! Modern and so easy to use—seriously, you can even get one from your phone or tablet—Ladders makes it possible to obtain a policy in under five minutes. Yes, really. See? No need to procrastinate!

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The student loan redux

You have the degree and the career—and you also have the debt. And like us, you're likely just paying your monthly minimums without a thought to ever refinancing your student loans. Because that sounds hard and complicated, right? Right. Not so with help from Laurel Road, however. On this straight-forward site you can check your rates in only a few minutes —fear not, doing so won't impact to your credit score!—and refinance your debt, saving yourself (and your family) thousands of dollars.

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The marriage counselor

Did you know that 66% of couples report a drop in marital satisfaction when new arrives? It's not surprising considering the stress an infant creates for mamas alone, but all that pressure affects your relationship, too. But taking the time to really invest in marriage counseling often falls to the bottom of the to-do lists because of the many hurdles—finding a therapist, traveling to appointments, the cost of copays or out-of-pocket fees, the stigma of need therapy. With Lasting, however, you and your partner pair your apps and can begin working on your relationship together on your own timeline.

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Motherly is your daily #momlife manual. We share what we love—and we may receive a commission if you choose to buy. You've got this.

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A lot of women are literally walking around in fashion mogul Jessica Simpson's shoes, but there was no way she was going to be getting her feet into any of the footwear with her name on while she was pregnant.

A few months ago, back when she was still super pregnant with her third child, Simpson posted a photo of her left foot on Instagram and honestly, just looking at it was painful.

"Any remedies?! Help!!!!" she captioned the pic of her incredibly swollen ankle and foot. Thankfully, now that she's in her fourth trimester and no longer pregnant, Simpson's feet have chilled out. She posted a new pic with the caption: "I spy....my ankles!!!!

Before + after

The commenters on Instagram are now as happy for Jessica as they were were as shocked back when she posted the first foot photo.

"Omg Jessica call your Dr. Keep feet up lower salt intake and no heels," one wrote (although the last bit seems like it probably wouldn't be an option even if she wanted to wear them).

Calling the doctor is not a bad idea if your foot look's like Simpson's before photo, because swelling during pregnancy can be a sign of preeclampsia, according to the Preeclampsia Foundation, which notes that "a certain amount of swelling is normal during pregnancy," but suggests that moms-to-be watch out for "pitting edema" (which means that when you press on the skin an indentation stays for a bit) and leg discoloration.

"If you suspect this kind of edema, notify your healthcare provider. You should also put your feet up every day, but avoid sitting for extended periods of time," the foundation states on its website.

What mamas need to know about swollen feet

Simpson took her swelling with a sense of humor, posting a before and after pic of some super high wedges and her swollen pregnancy foot with the caption #tenyearchallenge, but swelling can be serious in pregnancy.

It can be related peripartum cardiomyopathy a rare kind of heart failure that can develop in the last month of pregnancy or in the first five months postpartum, but, according to the the American Heart Association, isn't easy to diagnose as the symptoms (like swollen ankles) are also symptoms of third trimester pregnancy.

So swelling is something to watch and definitely talk to a health care provider about—but it also happens in many uncomplicated pregnancies, as a lot of Jessica's IG followers pointed out. "That happened to me with my 1st pregnancy. Lots of elevation for my feet and fluids. Watch the sodium intake. Hang in there," one mama wrote, throwing in a 💞 emoji.

Jessica Simpson just launched a collection of flats 

Another commenter offered a funny story to put Jessica at ease: "My feet looked like this the last month of my pregnancy (if not worse) and I had normal BP and didn't have preeclampsia. I'm 5'0" and retained so much water. My OB-GYN at the time (a 65 year old man) told me that I had what he called "Fiona feet"....yep, the ogre from Shrek. Yep. 🤦🏼♀️ Needless to say, I switched doctors after my daughter was born."

Jessica Simpson's shoe collection currently includes a wedges, booties and a gorgeous stacked stiletto, and she recently launched a collection of flats, which should be helpful to all the mamas-to-be who have swollen feet (although not as swollen as hers were, she should design an extra-wide slipper for that season of life).

[A version of this post was originally published January 11, 2019. It has been updated.]

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