Signs of child abuse should be reported

Published 7:00 am Tuesday, June 26, 2018

Child abuse can be difficult to detect, but knowing what to look for and reporting suspicious activity in a timely manner is essential.

According to an article by the Mississippi Department of Child Protection Services, there are multiple types of child abuse – some less obvious than others.

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The article states that the most difficult types to identify are verbal and emotional abuse. Abuse that does not leave a visible mark can include name-calling, threats of harm, destruction of personal items and isolating them, among other things.

Physical abuse can include slapping and hitting a child, shaking them or tying them up. Physical abuse often leaves visible injuries such as cuts, bruises and burns, the article states.

According to the article, neglect is another form of abuse.

“Neglect means not meeting the basic needs of the child and is the most common form of maltreatment,” the article states.

Lack of medical care, supervision, nutrition, clothing, proper hygiene and a safe place to live are categorized as types of neglect, according to the article.

Tonya Gains, a social worker at the Pearl River County Division of Mississippi Department of Child Protection Services, said that if anyone suspects abuse is occurring, they should immediately call the Mississippi abuse hotline.

“You can’t go wrong. That’s the first thing you need to do,” Gains said.

Once a call is made to the hotline, the caller will be directed to a place within their county where they can report the abuse.

Gains said that sometimes it can be difficult to determine if a child is being abused, or if there are other circumstances at play. So, a thorough investigation will need to be done. Regardless, for a child’s safety she said it is always important to report any suspicions, even if they turn out to be false. Gains said when someone calls, they can choose to stay anonymous if they are afraid of backlash from the parents or guardian of the child.

According to Mississippi code 43-21-353, anyone who has a reasonable suspicion that a child is being abused is required to report it as soon as possible.

The Mississippi abuse hotline can be reached at 1-800-222-8000.