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Inside Pediatrics Podcast

Birmingham, Ala. (April 1, 2024) — April is National Child Abuse Prevention Month, and throughout the month, health experts say they will be spreading a message of hope for victims of child abuse.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, at least 1 in 7 children have experienced child abuse or neglect in the past year in the United States. 


Debra Schneider, the executive director of the CHIPS Center at Children’s of Alabama, says there are four types of child abuse:

  • Physical

  • Sexual

  • Emotional

  • Neglect

Schneider says child abuse is preventable through supervision and understanding child development, and most children are physically or sexually abused by someone they know.

“If parents will just be mindful of supervision, know where your children are, know what they are doing, that can help protect them from abuse,” said Schneider.

Schneider says parents should be aware of the warning signs of abuse. She says the signs of physical abuse can be bruising or unexpected marks on a child or unexplained injuries. Schneider advises parents to pay close attention to a child who may wear long sleeves or a jacket in very hot weather. She says this may be the child’s way of covering up bruising or marks. When it comes to sexual abuse, Schneider says some of the warning signs may be complaints about pain, trouble walking, or knowledge of sexual language beyond the child’s developmental age. 

“It’s hard for children to tell someone that they are being abused or that someone is doing something that makes them feel awkward or uncomfortable. We just need to remind children and teach children if they are abused, it’s never their fault and help them identify trusted adults they can go to,” said Schneider.

Since 1995, the CHIPS Center at Children’s of Alabama has served as an outpatient clinic for children who have experienced suspected abuse and their families. Schneider says the center offers a variety of services.

“We offer forensic medical exams for suspected child abuse. We also have a counseling component, and we do prevention education at the CHIPS Center and out in the community,” said Schneider. “We are also part of a teaching facility, so we have doctors and nurses, counselors, and social workers who will do training to learn more about child abuse.”

Schneider encourages anyone who suspects abuse to report it immediately. Anyone can report suspected child abuse to the local Department of Human Resources. You can also call the Childhelp National Child Abuse Hotline at 1-800-422-4453. If a child is in immediate danger, call 911.

Schneider offers this advice to parents during the month of April and year long.

“Child abuse is preventable through supervision, through knowing your child, through listening to your child, having good communication and knowing that if something changes with them, to reach out and let them know that you are there to help,” said Schneider.

For more information on the CHIPS Center, call 205-638-2751 or visit childrensal.org/CHIPS.