How to spot signs of child abuse

How to spot signs of child abuse

GRAND RAPIDS, MICH. - Twice in roughly a month, a West Michigan child died in a case of suspected abuse. In June, 4-year-old Giovanni Meijas died in an apparent beating in Grand Rapids. Police arrested the mother's boyfriend in the case.

Earlier this week, a 6 month old boy died and his mother was arrested for murder and first degree child abuse. 

"We have a responsibility just as a community and that's all over, you know, to look out for one another because when a child is harmed in any type of way, there always consequences," Marcia Boatman, Ph.D a clinician at Wedgwood Christian Services, said. 

Boatman says the most common types of abuse are physical and sexual but there are others.

"The less common types are maltreatment and neglect," she said. "Maltreatment would be basically exposing children to cruelty and suffering. An example would be locking them in a room and neglect would be not feeding them." 

Though its not always obvious, Boatman says there are some signs you can look for.

BEHAVIOR SIGNS

  • Child acts withdrawn
  • Child acts aggressive
  • May not want to go home
  • Child becomes withdrawn when comes close to abuser

PHYSICAL SIGNS

  • Bruises
  • Bite marks 
  • Child is sensitive to touch
  • May flinch when someone comes near

INFANT ABUSE
Ask yourself:

  • What happens when the infant is crying?
  • How does the mom tend to the infant?
  • Does she leave the infant alone?

If you suspect abuse, Boatman says if you have contact with the child you can ask them but never confront the parent.

"If it’s a child they have contact with that they can speak with, you can ask them open ended questions, such as 'How did you break your arm?' or 'How did you get that big bruise on your back?'," Boatman said. 

"I would never recommend confronting the parent and again its not our responsibility to try and investigate, that’s left up to the Child Protective Services. 

If you fear a child you know is being abused you can call the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services anytime, day or night, at 855-444-3911. 

© 2017 WZZM-TV


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