Parents / Caregivers

As a parent or caregiver, you want to do everything in your power to ensure the health, safety and well-being of your child. But what if your child has experienced trauma? The reality is that many children have experienced some form of trauma in their lives, which can have a significant impact on their physical, emotional, and social development. That’s why it’s important to have access to resources and support to help you address the unique needs of your child.

Adverse childhood experiences (ACEs) are widespread in Michigan with two-thirds (68%) of Michigan adults and more than half (58%) of Michigan youth reporting one or more.

Our website offers a wide range of resources and training aides to help you respond to trauma. This includes tips on creating a safe and supportive home environment while helping you provide trauma-informed care to your child.

Signs of Abuse

Recognizing the signs of abuse is crucial in protecting the children in your care. Abuse can take many forms including physical, sexual, emotional and neglect. It is important to know what to look for and how to respond if you suspect abuse. In this section, we will provide you with information on the signs of abuse and resources to help you identify and respond to it. By being informed and vigilant, you can help protect the well-being of your child.

What to Look For:
Sexual Abuse - Physical Indicators
  • Pain or itching in genital area.
  • Bruises or bleeding in genital area.
  • Sexually transmitted disease.
  • Frequent urinary or yeast infections.
  • Extreme or sudden weight change.
  • Pregnancy under 12 years of age.
Sexual Abuse - Behavioral Indicators
  •  Withdrawal, chronic depression.
  • Sexual behaviors or references that are unusual for the child’s age.
  • Seductive or promiscuous behavior.
  • Poor self-esteem, self-devaluation, lack of confidence.
  • Suicide attempts (especially adolescents).
  • Hysteria, lack of emotional control. 
Physical Abuse - Physical Indicators
  • Unexplained bruises (in various stages of healing), welts, loop marks.
  • Adult/human bite marks.
  • Bald spots or missing clumps of hair.
  • Unexplained burns/scalds.
  • Unexplained fractures, skin lacerations/punctures or abrasions.
  • Swollen lips/chipped teeth. 
  • Linear/parallel marks on cheeks and temple area. 
  • Crescent-shaped bruising. 
  • Puncture wounds. 
  • Bruising behind the ears.
Physical Abuse - Behavioral Indicators
  • Self-destructive/self-mutilation.
  • Withdrawn and/or aggressive-behavior extremes.
  • Uncomfortable/skittish with physical contact.
  • Arrives at school late or stays late as if afraid to be at home.
  • Chronic runaway (adolescents).
  • Complains of soreness or moves uncomfortably.
  • Wears clothing inappropriate to weather, to cover body.
  • Lack of impulse control (e.g. inappropriate outbursts).
Emotional Abuse - Behavioral Indicators
  • Self-destructive/self-mutilation.
  • Withdrawn and/or aggressive-behavior extremes.
  • Uncomfortable/skittish with physical contact.
  • Arrives at school late or stays late as if afraid to be at home.
  • Chronic runaway (adolescents).
  • Complains of soreness or moves uncomfortably.
  • Wears clothing inappropriate to weather, to cover body.
  • Lack of impulse control (e.g. inappropriate outbursts).
Physical Neglect - Physical Indicators
  • Unattended medical needs.
  • Lack of supervision.
  • Regular signs of hunger, inappropriate dress, poor hygiene.
  • Distended stomach, emaciated.
  • Significant weight change.
Physical Neglect - Behavioral Indicators
  • Regularly displays fatigue or listlessness, falls asleep in class.
  • Steals/hoards food, begs from classmates.
  • Reports that no caretaker is at home.
What is a CAC?

Trauma Informed Care

As a parent or caregiver, you want to ensure that your child receives the best possible care and support. Trauma-informed care is an approach that recognizes and responds to the impact of trauma on a child’s emotional, physical, and cognitive development. It focuses on building resilience and promoting healing, rather than simply managing symptoms. We understand the importance of trauma-informed care and offer resources to help parents and caregivers provide the best possible care for their child. 

 

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“Trauma-informed care is a strengths based framework that is grounded in an understanding of and responsiveness to the impact of trauma, that emphasizes physical, psychological, and emotional safety for both providers and survivors, and that creates opportunities for survivors to rebuild a sense of control and empowerment.”

Facts & Myths

It can be challenging to navigate the facts and myths surrounding child abuse. It is essential to have a clear understanding of what child abuse is. We want to provide you with accurate information and dispel any myths that may be harmful to you and your family.

We are dedicated to promoting awareness and education about child abuse. The resources provided can help you recognize the signs of abuse and how to respond appropriately. By understanding the facts and myths about child abuse, you can help create a safer environment for your children.

MYTH

It’s only abuse if it’s violent.

FACT

Physical abuse is just one type of child abuse. Neglect and emotional abuse can be just as damaging, and since they are more subtle, others are less likely to intervene.

MYTH

Child abuse only happens in lower economic classes of society.

FACT

Child abuse doesn’t discriminate. Child abuse can and does happen anywhere and to anyone. It exists in every corner of society. It transcends locations, races, socioeconomic classes, and communities and can occur in many forms.

MYTH

Emotional abuse and neglect are less serious than physical abuse.

FACT

Child abuse in all forms can result in actual or potential harm. There are various types of child abuse, including physical, emotional, and sexual abuse, and mental and emotional neglect. All of which include an emotional component.

MYTH

A parent's main worry should be to protect their children from strangers.

FACT

More than 90% of child abuse happens at the hands of someone the child knows.

Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs)

Understanding adverse childhood experiences (ACEs) can be crucial in providing a nurturing and supportive environment for children. ACEs are stressful or traumatic experiences that occur during childhood, such as abuse, neglect, household dysfunction, or parental separation or divorce. These experiences can have a lasting impact on a child’s physical, emotional, and mental well-being.

Learning about ACEs and their effects can help you identify potential areas of struggle for your child and provide appropriate support and resources. It can also help you understand the importance of creating a safe and stable home environment, promoting positive coping skills, and seeking professional help when needed.

Resources and information on ACEs are provided to help parents and caregivers better understand and support their children’s mental health and well-being.

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Resiliency

You want to give your child the best possible start in life. However, challenges and difficult experiences can sometimes arise, and it’s important to support your child’s ability to bounce back and cope with adversity. This is where resiliency comes in. By helping your child develop resilience, you can support their emotional and mental wellbeing throughout their lives. We provide resources and information to help parents and caregivers understand the importance of resilience and how to foster it in their children.

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“In the context of exposure to significant adversity, resilience is both the capacity of individuals to navigate their way to the psychological, social, cultural, and physical resources that sustain their well-being, and their capacity individually and collectively to negotiate for these resources to be provided in culturally meaningful ways.”

Dr. Michael Unger

Vicarious Trauma

You want to do everything you can to protect and support your child. But when you hear about or witness trauma experienced by others, such as a child you know, it can also take a toll on your own mental health and wellbeing. This is known as vicarious trauma, and it’s important to recognize the signs and take steps to care for yourself so that you can continue to provide the best care for your child. Resources and information are provided on how to recognize and address vicarious trauma.

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Training

It is important to be knowledgeable about child abuse and its effects. Training is one way to gain the knowledge and skills necessary to protect children and promote their well-being. Training can include topics such as identifying signs of abuse, understanding the impact of trauma, and learning effective communication and problem-solving strategies. By participating in training, you can become a strong advocate for your child and other children in your community. There are a variety of training opportunities available, from online courses to in-person workshops. See below for training that fits your schedule and meets your needs.

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Resources

Having access to helpful resources can make all the difference. Providing parents and caregivers with the necessary tools to help children who have experienced abuse or trauma is important. This section offers a variety of materials including articles, videos, and other helpful resources to support parents and caregivers in understanding trauma, healing, and building resilience in their children. We believe that with the right tools and support, parents and caregivers can play a crucial role in helping their children recover and thrive.

ACEs
Trauma Informed Care
Mandatory Reporting
Resilience
Vicarious Trauma
Sexual Development
Relationship Violence
Teens

Tools, Screeners, & Assessments

It can be difficult to know whether a child is experiencing abuse or neglect. Recognizing the signs and understanding how to respond is crucial in ensuring their safety and well-being. Fortunately, there are many tools, screeners and assessments available to help you assess a situation and get the support you and/or your child’s needs. These resources can also help you identify any adverse childhood experiences your child may have had, and connect you with trauma-informed care providers who can offer guidance and support. We’ve compiled a range of resources designed to help parents and caregivers navigate these complex issues and support their children in healing and thriving.

Mandatory Reporting

It is important to know that certain professionals, such as teachers, doctors, and counselors, are mandated reporters. This means that if they have reason to believe that a child is being abused or neglected, they are required by law to report it to the appropriate authorities. However, as a parent or caregiver, you too have a responsibility to report suspected abuse or neglect. Reporting abuse can be a difficult decision, but it is crucial to protecting the safety and well-being of children. You can find resources and information on how to recognize the signs of abuse, how to report it, and what to expect after making a report here.

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