LANSING, Mich (WLNS) – April in National Child Abuse Prevention Month and Michigan Attorney General Bill Schuette is reminding people to speak up if they suspect a child is in danger.
Schuette said the problem is not just a threat; it is very real with 74 Michigan children who may have died last year in a situation where abuse or neglect may have been a factor.
Last year the state received 284 complaints that a child may have died as a result of abuse or neglect. Of that number 74 were substantiated that the death was caused by abuse.
“Our children are our most precious resource, and when they are abused and neglected, we in law enforcement have a duty to protect them,” said Schuette. “If you see a child that needs your help, report it. You could save their life.”
Who should report suspected child abuse? The simple answer is: anyone. There are certain groups of people who are required by the Michigan Child Protection Law to report suspected abuse. Those people include teachers, health care professionals and law enforcement.
There are some physical indicators that might be signs of neglect. These include unattended medical needs, no supervision, regular hunger, poor hygiene and significant weight change.
Behavior changes can also suggest neglect. If a child is regularly listless, falls asleep in class or begs food from classmates there may be neglect in the child’s life.
Abuse may be indicated when unexplained bruises, adult bite marks, missing clumps of hair, fractured bones or other wounds are present. If a child is being physically abused they may be withdrawn or show extreme aggression, may shy away from physical contact, be late for school or not want to leave school to return home or wear clothing that is inappropriate for the weather in an attempt to hide body.
Sexual abuse can be indicated by genital pain or itching, STDs, extreme or sudden weight gain or pregnancy under the age of 12. Some of the behaviors that could indicate sexual abuse are withdrawal, chronic depression, sexual references that are not age-appropriate, hysteria or even suicide attempts.
So who do you call if you suspect child abuse or neglect? Contact your local law enforcement or the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services by calling 855-444-3911.