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Press Release
April 20, 2011

ACS Offers Five Key Tips for Keeping Young Children Safe in Recognition Of Child Abuse Prevention Month in April

- #1 Tip is to Call 311 or Abuse Hotline if Child Abuse/Neglect is Suspected -
--Parents Are Reminded to Be Careful Who They Leave their Baby With--

New York, NY – April is National Child Abuse Prevention Month and the NYC Administration for Children’s Services (ACS) is taking this opportunity to remind New Yorkers of important safety tips and resources available to help keep children safe.

“National Child Abuse Prevention Month reminds us that we all have an important part to play in the protection of children,” said Commissioner John B. Mattingly.  “Every child has the right to be safe and the most important tip we can provide to New Yorkers is that reporting suspicions of child abuse and neglect immediately can save a child’s life.”

By following these five important tips on child safety, every New Yorker can help to keep our City’s children safe: 

  1. Report suspected child abuse at the first sign of potential trouble.  Reporting concerns may be the critical step to protecting a child from harm.  Don’t assume that others are aware of a problem or have made a report.  Only when ACS hears about potential problems can it take the steps necessary to protect a child or provide the services necessary to strengthen a family before trouble develops or worsens.  To make a report, dial:

311 for NYC residents to report suspected child abuse; call 911 if a child is in immediate danger;

800-342-3720, the general public’s direct number for the State Central Register;

ACS also reminds professionals such as educators, medical providers, child care workers and law enforcement personnel that as mandated reporters they are required by law to report abuse if they encounter it in the course of doing their job.  Mandated reporters should call the State Central Register Mandated Reporter Hotline at 1-800-635-1522.  Following a report, the ACS Office of Safety First is available to assist mandated reporters with inquiries about an open child protective investigation at 718-KID-SAFE (543-7233). 

  1. Never, ever shake a baby. Children, especially babies, are delicate and it can take as little as two seconds of shaking to seriously hurt a child.  Caring for a child is hard work but no matter how frustrated or upset you feel when a child cries, stay calm.  Crying is their way of expressing they are uncomfortable or unhappy.  Walk around holding the baby close to you in your arms or in a carrier.  If you are feeling overwhelmed, put the baby down in a crib or other safe place until you feel calm.
  1. Babies sleep safest alone in their cribs.  If an adult or child rolls over on a baby, the baby can be hurt or even suffocated.  It can be particularly dangerous for a baby to sleep in a bed or on a couch with someone who has been drinking, using drugs, or taking medication that causes sleepiness.  You can safely keep your baby close during the night by placing him or her in a crib near your bed.  Also, to protect against Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS), always put a baby to sleep on his or her back and use a firm mattress without any pillows, stuffed animals or blankets near the baby’s face.
  1. Childproof your home.  There are several easy and inexpensive measures you can take in your home to prevent accidents that can harm a child, including: installing guards on windows and gates on staircases, making sure TV sets are stable, covering electrical outlets, using safety latches on cabinets and drawers, storing medicines and hazardous products where children can’t get to them, keeping plastic bags out of reach of children, and using bumpers to cushion corners of tables or other sharp-edged furniture. Also, keep children away from peeling paint and renovation work, and tell your landlord if you have a child in the home so that they can inspect and repair lead-based paint hazards.
  1. Never leave a young child alone, even for a few minutes.  Accidents can happen in a matter of seconds and young children can be hurt or worse without the constant, watchful eye of a responsible caregiver.  Toddlers love getting into things and while their curiosity is natural and good, they can quickly come into harms way.  Never leave a child alone in the house, even if you are just going to step outside; and always keep an eye on your child, even when close by.

ACS also reminds New Yorkers during Child Abuse Prevention Month in April to be cautious when leaving children with caregivers, even those who are relatives or close family friends.  In July 2010, ACS launched a campaign designed to inform parents about the importance of using extreme caution when choosing a babysitter or other caregiver.  The campaign advised parents to look out for warning signs of a potentially dangerous caregiver, including someone who is:

    • Angry or severely impatient when children have tantrums, cry or misbehave.
    • Violent and/or controlling with their partners.
    • Physically or verbally abusive with children.
    • An abuser of alcohol and drugs, including marijuana.
    • Using prescription medications that have bad side effects or make them drowsy.
    • Not trust worthy for any reason.

The “Be Careful Who Cares for Your Child” campaign was created in response to a number of child fatalities in New York City, allegedly at the hands of a person the mother considered to be a trusted adult. The agency is holding community forums this month in Brooklyn and Queens to discuss this important message and other key tips for keeping children safe.

Each year, ACS investigates approximately 60,000 reports of alleged abuse and neglect involving more than 91,000 children.  ACS works with a network of community-based preventive programs to provide a comprehensive array of preventive services to help children grow up in safe, permanent homes with strong families.  To find out about preventive programs in the community, New Yorkers can call 311 and ask for “Parenting Support” to be connected to the Prevention and Parent Helpline operated by Prevent Child Abuse New York or visit the ACS web site at www.nyc.gov/acs.

ACS has a child safety brochure and DVD available for the public which educates parents and caregivers about how to prevent accidents, focusing on tips like these. Copies of these materials are available through the ACS Office of Communications by calling 212-341-0999. To view these materials and access additional child safety related information, visit the ACS web site at www.nyc.gov/acs.


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