How to recognize the signs of child abuse

By Elizabeth Temple - bio | email

LAKE CHARLES, LA (KPLC) - Calcasieu Parish ranks at the top when it comes to child abuse. In fact, it's the number two parish in Louisiana with over 1,500 cases reported each year. But how do you know when someone is being abused?

Becky Perry read the signs and saved a 13-year-old girl from abuse.

"It was hard on her at first but I just talked to her like a mom would you know," Perry said.

Perry is a CASA volunteer who works with kids and teens who may have been abused before or had trouble at home. She says she has to watch every child to make sure this does not continue happening.

"Oh I'm always on the lookout" explained Perry, "There was some self-mutilation and just from know her I knew something was wrong"

Of the 447 abuse cases reported last year, 13 of them did not know their abuser. That means 334 of the kids interviewed know who abused them.

Erika Simon is a Forensic Interviewer at The Children's Advocacy Center at the Family & Youth Counseling Agency. She see children everyday that may be abused and she suggests for parents, relatives or teachers to recognize abuse they must watch for when a child's behavior suddenly changes.

"The main thing is for parents is to know your child" Simon explains,"If for whatever reason the child is displaying behavior you know is not normal talk to them about it...ask them follow-up questions...well what's making you feel that way around so and so? Or how come you're scared to go back to Uncle Joe's house?"

The Children's Advocacy Center suggests if you are in a public place watching child abuse, try to distract the abuser. You can talk to them using simple, on-threatening phrases, according to the Center's handout, like "Children can wear you out can't they? Can I help?"

Finally Simon says to look out for unusual behavior like wearing long-sleeved clothing to cover bruises.

"Its hot in Louisiana so if you see a child who is covered up all the time that's a red flag" Simon said.

Call The Family & Youth Counseling Agency at 337-436-9533 for more information on child abuse prevention and counseling.

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