Naples, FL (January 19, 2021)
The recent story of a Central Florida waitress saving a young boy from his allegedly abusive parents has brought to light the importance of reporting suspected child abuse. According to multiple news sources, both national1 and local2, the waitress reported the boy to authorities after she noticed he was bruised and wasn’t being allowed to eat. By communicating to the boy through a sign, she was able to determined he needed help.
Sadly, Youth Haven is well aware of the high rate of child abuse that occurs at the hands of parents. The children & teens that come to Youth Haven have been abused, abandoned, neglected or are homeless. Founded in 1972, Youth Haven was established to fulfill an immediate need for emergency shelter for children who had been removed suddenly from a traumatic home situation. Our 25-acre therapeutic campus houses over 70 youth with a waking staff system that allows for around-the-clock specialized care.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), “heightened stress, school closures, loss of income, and social isolation resulting from the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic have increased the risk for child abuse and neglect. Child abuse is preventable; implementation of strategies including strengthening household economic supports and creating family-friendly work policies can reduce stress during difficult times and increase children’s opportunities to thrive in safe, stable, and nurturing relationships and environments. Despite known risk for child abuse and neglect during pandemics and preliminary reports of increased severity of child abuse and neglect in some facilities, official reports to child protection agencies have declined across the United States by 20%–70%, attributed to decreased in-person contact between children and mandated reporters (e.g., teachers, social workers, and physicians).”2
Youth Haven urges the community to help protect our vulnerable children and teens by adopting the mindset of “See something, say something”. “Now more than ever, due to the COVID-19 pandemic, we are urging the general public to recognize and report suspected child abuse. If you see something suspicious, please say something,” said Linda Goldfield, Youth Haven’s Executive Director. “Children and teens in abusive situations do not have a voice and they depend on us – their community members – to speak up for them. Please join us in our efforts by reporting abuse immediately.”
According to the Florida Department of Children and Families (FDCF), below are some signs that a child may be a victim of abuse.3
- Unusual fearfulness
- Lack of hygiene or inappropriate dress
- Delayed emotional, intellectual or language development
- Frequent disorders
- Rocking, self-inflicted pain
- Sleep disorders
- Lack of eye contact, poor socialization
- Acting out in school
- Unexplained scars of bruises
- Many school absences
How to make a report
Under Florida law, anyone who suspects a child may be abused or neglected has a responsibility to report it. For additional information on child abuse and who to contact if you suspect a child is being abused, please call 1-800-962-2873 or visit https://reportabuse.dcf.state.fl.us/
Youth Haven Contact
If you have any questions, please contact Linda Goldfield, Youth Haven’s Executive Director, at 239-687-5155 or Linda.Goldfield@youthhavenswfl.org.
About Youth Haven, Inc.
Youth Haven, Inc., a 501(c)(3) non-profit agency, is Collier County’s only emergency and residential emergency shelter for boys and girls ages 6 – 18 who have been removed from their homes due to abuse, neglect, or abandonment. In continuous operation since 1972, Youth Haven’s 25-acre therapeutic campus houses over 70 youth with a waking staff system that allows for around-the-clock specialized care. Also situated on its campus is Rob’s Group Home, Youth Haven’s transitional living cottage, which provides comprehensive 24-hour care, with a longer average length of stay, for homeless unaccompanied teenagers ages 16 -19. Youth Haven is a COA nationally accredited organization, a member agency of the United Way of Collier County, a Naples Children & Education Foundation grant recipient, and holds a 4-star rating from Charity Navigator. Its mission is focused on protecting and empowering children and teens in Southwest Florida through comprehensive care and community collaboration. For more information, please visit youthhavenswfl.org or call 239-774-2904. Follow Youth Haven on social media: Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and LinkedIn.