Recognize and help prevent child abuse - WTOC-TV: Savannah, Beaufort, SC, News, Weather & Sports

Recognize and help prevent child abuse

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CHARLOTTE, NC (WBTV) -

Headline after headline lately, one sad case of child abuse after another.

On Wednesday a Charlotte man was found guilty of beating his 23 month old baby to death. 

In Lancaster County, a 5 year old girl was found dead on Tuesday.  Investigators have charged the mother's boyfriend with her death. 

And there was the widely reported case of little Kilah Davenport who was beaten so badly she suffered brain damage.   

So the big question, how do you prevent these cases from happening?

"I think it's awful," said Cassandra Wilkinson.  "I think any person that inflicts abuse on a child has a problem themselves that they're not dealing with, so they put it on a kid, and I think it's awful."

And as awful as it is, it's also common.

The web site childhelp.org is run by a children's advocacy group.  It says that there's a suspected new case reported every ten seconds, that every day five children die as a result of child abuse, and that in 90% of cases, the victims knows the abuser.

"This stuff doesn't have to happen," said Beth Moore of Prevent Child Abuse Rowan.

As a forensic interviewer with Prevent Child Abuse Rowan, Moore knows the subject of child abuse better than most, and she knows the signs.

"Any kind of behavior that's out of the ordinary for the child, especially teachers, in school if they have kids that are doing things that are out of the ordinary, kids that are just acting out that are normally well behaved children, typically those are prominent signs that a child is being abused, and obviously the bruises."

But seeing signs is one thing, doing something about is something else.

"It is a cycle. For kids, if they abuse is all they've ever known and all they've ever dealt with, then it's just going to get passed along," Moore added.

When suspected abuse is reported to police or social workers, or by simply calling 911, the victim often comes to a place like Prevent Child Abuse Rowan.  Many larger counties in the Carolinas have similar facilities.

At Prevent Child Abuse Rowan, Beth conducts an interview and there can be a medical exam if needed. Moore says that even in a friendly interview situation, abused children are often scared to talk about it or get the abuser in trouble.

"My job is to minimize trauma for that child and to maximize information that they're giving me," Moore added.  "When I'm in the room with a child I'm really trying to find out what has happened to them and afterwards we get a team of people together to move forward."

If you suspect child abuse, it's against the law not to report it. And usually you can remain anonymous. The bottom line, according to Beth, is to take the first step towards breaking the cycle of abuse.

And child abuse is often referred to as a cycle because there is a better than 30% chance that a child who is abused today will abuse his or her children later in life. Stopping it now can save future generations.

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