YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio (WYTV) - The statistics on child abuse are alarming. April is Child Abuse Awareness Month and advocates continue to call on the community to help protect kids.
In Ohio alone, a child is abused or neglected every 30 minutes.
Every year, more than 6.6 million cases of child abuse are reported in America, making this one of the most widespread health problems children face -- with the most serious consequences.
"It's worrisome. It's shocking and I don't think you ever get used to knowing about it," said Jennifer Kollar, spokesperson for Mahoning County Children Services.
The sad truth is statistics show that a large number of children in Mahoning County are being abused -- some as young as babies.
"Unfortunately, in 2017, we had over 2,280 active investigations of child abuse and neglect in Mahoning County," Kollar said.
From January 1, 2018 to the end of March, the agency has already investigated 579 cases.
This spike in calls has prompted Children Services to increase their intake staff so they can investigate more cases as those calls come in.
It's these facts and many more that have advocates with Children Services urging the community to pay attention to signs beyond bruises.
"There's all kinds of different scenarios that could result in saving the life of a child, so you don't necessarily have to be a parent," Kollar said. "We just ask that everybody in the community -- no matter your age, no matter who you are -- just be vigilant."
It's not just during the month of April. Advocates are encouraging the community to educate themselves to help protect future generations year-round.
"You don't have to catch somebody red-handed. You just have to have that willingness to say, 'You know what? Something's not right. Let me make the call and leave that up to the child welfare professionals,'" Kollar said.
Signs of possible abuse:
- Bruises, fractures, burns, marks and other physical injuries
- Anti-social behavior and problems in school
- Fear of adults
- Self-destructive or suicidal behavior
- Depression and lack of concentration
- Inappropriate interest in or knowledge of sexual acts
- Difficulty walking or sitting
- Frequent vomiting
- Exceptionally secretive
- Overly aggressive
- Sleep problems and nightmares
- Crying without provocation
- Wetting or soiling pants or bed
- Frequently running away
- Cruelty to animals
- Fire-setting behaviors
- Extreme emotional swings
- Rocking, thumb-sucking that is developmentally inappropriate or head-banging
- Substance abuse
Signs of possible neglect:
- Lack of necessary food or shelter
- Lack of appropriate supervision
- Lack of necessary medical or mental health treatment
- Lack of education
- Child's emotional needs aren't met
- Substance abuse
- Continually dirty or wearing unsuitable clothing for weather
- Older children caring for younger siblings
- Unusually small or thin, or having a distended stomach
- Craving unusual amounts of attention
Report suspected child abuse or neglect:
- Mahoning County Children Services
- Trumbull County Children Services
- Columbiana County Department of Job & Family Services
- Mercer County Children & Youth Services
- Lawrence County Children & Youth Services
Statistics and resources: