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How to spot signs of child abuse

Published: Apr. 9, 2021 at 4:57 PM CDT
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EAU CLAIRE, Wis. (WEAU) - Each year, more than 4,000 children in Wisconsin are identified as abused or neglected, that’s according to the Wisconsin Department of Children and Families.

“Children sometimes don’t know what they don’t know,” says Youth Advocate with the Family Center of Chippewa Falls. “They don’t understand what’s going on at home.”

Nationwide, the National Children’s Alliance reports nearly 700,000 kids report some form of abuse every year.

“With the shutdown, children are sometimes left in unsafe homes so we know that child abuse has been on the rise,” Sara says.

She also says teachers often play an important role in identifying abuse.

“Now that they’re returning to school we are noticing that there’s definitely an increase in reporting.”

Not all forms of child abuse are physical, Prevea Behavioral Care Counselor Sarah Bodeau says abuse impacts a child’s mental state.

“Pretty much any time a child’s behavior changes, they may become more aggressive or defiant or more withdrawn and isolated,” she says.

HSHS Sacred Heart Hospital RN, Hannah Schroeder says the physical signs aren’t always noticeable.

“There could be bruises and cuts and burns and breaks and bones that may be identified but typically abusers are very good at hiding some of those things so they may not be as visible,” Schroeder says.

That’s why Sara stresses the importance of alert and responsive adults:

“Every child deserves to have a happy healthy childhood and it just takes a really positive and supportive person, an adult, to kind of be a support for a child,” she says.

Sara says the Family Support Center of Chippewa Falls offers resources for those who may be experiencing abuse as well as resources for parents struggling to connect with their child.

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