Palm Beach Children’s Hospital honors Child Abuse Prevention Month in April

Apr 14, 2023

How can you tell if someone is abusing a child? Also known as non-accidental trauma, child abuse can happen in many different forms, including physical, mental, sexual and neglect. In criminal form, the United States defines it “as any recent act or failure to act on the part of a parent or caretaker, which results in death, serious physical or emotional harm, sexual abuse or exploitation, or an act or failure to act which presents an imminent risk of serious harm.”

April is Child Abuse Prevention Month, so it’s a perfect time to raise awareness about how to spot it in a child so it can be reported and stopped.

Here are some signs from Child Welfare( if the child has changes in their behavior, is having trouble sleeping, withdrawn from friends or activities that they normally enjoy, appears reluctant around a particular person, overly compliant, passive, or withdrawn, and shows up to school or other activities early, stays late and does not want to go home.

“Spotting child abuse is often the first step in getting it to stop,” Dr. Anne Fischer, the Chief of Pediatric Surgery at Palm Beach Children’s Hospital said. “So often the first-time child abuse is reported is after the child has to be brought to St Mary’s because they were being treated so poorly. Prolonged child abuse can have major implications for the child when they grow up to be adults, which can reveal itself with anxiety, post-traumatic stress, and addiction, among other ailments.”

anne-fischer-200x300Palm Beach Children’s Hospital at St. Mary’s is hosting our annual “Goodnight to Child Abuse” event April 11th at 6pm. Local law enforcement and fire-rescue and the Department of Family Services will attend, turning on their emergency lights as staff and volunteers wave glow sticks to say goodnight to this preventable act.

Dr. Fischer is a board-certified and fellowship-trained pediatric general and thoracic surgeon with a passion for children, “our adored patients.” Dr. Fischer specializes in advanced minimally invasive laparoscopy (MIS), as well as video assisted thoracoscopic surgery (VATS) for lesions in the chest. Dr. Fischer also specializes in NUSS surgery, a minimally invasive surgical correction to correct severe pectus excavatum or sunken chest, as well as advancing a non-surgical approach for an extruding chest, or pectus carinatum, via a brace made 3D to fit the child. For a full spectrum of care, she performs laparoscopic neonatal surgery with prenatal counseling and intervention, and complex oncologic surgery for childhood malignancies. Dr. Fischer is Chief of Pediatric Surgery at Palm Beach Children’s Hospital and on-staff at St. Mary’s Medical Center. Her office with Palm Beach Surgical Specialists is a pediatric general surgery practice with Palm Beach Health Network Physician Group located on the St. Mary’s hospital campus with clinics in Jupiter and Royal Palm Beach. For her training, Dr. Fischer completed a pediatric surgery fellowship at Boston Children’s Hospital/ Harvard Medical School. Previously, she completed a fellowship at the Sidney Kimmel Cancer Center at Johns Hopkins Medical School in Baltimore, MD, where she had completed her entire general surgical training and medical school.

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