LAKE CHARLES, La. (KPLC) - Can you spot the signs of child abuse? It’s more important than ever, with experts saying child abuse cases have risen during COVID-19 restrictions. The first step in helping abused or neglected children is learning to recognize warning signs of abuse or neglect.
“What I typically tell parents that we talk to here at our Child Advocacy Center, you want to recognize anything that is not typical behavior for your child,” said Vice President of the Family and Youth Agency, Erika Doshier.
Children who show signs of regression to early childhood behaviors, onset of fear of places or people, or even simply voicing that someone makes them uncomfortable or scared, is a potential sign of a bad situation.
“You don’t just want to automatically assume that something may have occurred,” Doshier said. “You want to make sure to communicate openly about having boundaries and what that means to keep your body safe. Give your child the tools necessary to talk to you openly.”
Once a referral to the Child Advocacy Center is made, the child will be interviewed and will then receive counseling through the agency. “As soon as a child comes and talks about what occurred, they are funneled to receiving services,” Doshier said. “Addressing the trauma is a huge portion of the healing process when it comes to a child who was a victim of child abuse.”
As more children are going to school virtually and parents are working from home, the agency has seen a rise in abuse cases. These stresses can advance into serious problems.
“Anything from physical abuse, witnessing a violent crime, or whatever reason there is a domestic dispute with the kids witnessing, to online solicitation.”
It is important to monitor online devices when children are not attending virtual schooling.
“You want to talk to them about it if it is someone they don’t know in real life,” Doshier said. “That person is a stranger. Create that boundary when it comes to internet safety.”
For more information on the services offered by Family and Youth, visit their website at www.fyca.org or call 337-436-9533.