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Campaign Centers on Child Abuse Prevention in NM, Nation

PHOTO: Reporting suspected child abuse and raising awareness of services available to help victims of abuse and neglect are the goals of National Child Abuse Prevention Month. Photo courtesy State of Nebraska Foster Care Review Office.
PHOTO: Reporting suspected child abuse and raising awareness of services available to help victims of abuse and neglect are the goals of National Child Abuse Prevention Month. Photo courtesy State of Nebraska Foster Care Review Office.
April 8, 2015

SANTA FE, N.M. - Raising awareness about the services available to help victims of child abuse in New Mexico and around the nation is one goal of a national campaign.

"National Child Abuse Prevention Month" encourages victims and others to report cases of suspected child abuse, which comes in several forms, said Dr. Susan Miller, executive director of the New Mexico Child Abuse Prevention Partnership at the University of New Mexico.

"There is sexual abuse, there's neglect, there's physical abuse, and then there's death by child abuse," she said.

Miller said the majority of child-abuse cases in New Mexico involve neglect of children younger than age 5. Signs a child might be abused, she said, include sudden changes in behavior, physical bruises and broken bones, as well an unclean or disheveled appearance.

Several thousand cases of suspected child abuse are reported to the state's Children, Youth and Families Department (CYFD) and law-enforcement agencies each year, Miller said. House Bill 29, approved during the recent legislative session, makes it a legal requirement to report suspected abuse.

"So, if you even suspect that there is child abuse or something going on," Miller said, "you actually are now mandated, as a citizen, to call CYFD."

According to the U,S. Department of Health and Human Services, during a recent year more than 3 million cases of suspected child abuse were reported nationwide.

More information is online at nmcapp.unm.edu. Text of the legislation is at nmlegis.gov.

Troy Wilde, Public News Service - NM