Spotting signs of child abuse may be confusing for onlooking adults

Spotting signs of child abuse may be confusing for onlooking adults

According to the Georgia Court Appointed Special Advocates for Children, 200 cases of child abuse and neglect are reported on average each day in Georgia.

The issue has been in the news recently with an extensive abuse case in Taylor County, about an hour east of Columbus.

Locking their adopted daughter in a chicken coop and depriving her of food and sometimes clothing, are just some of the allegations against Diana Franklin who is on trial this week, and her husband Samuel Franklin set to face a jury next month.

However, people in the Valley are taking to Facebook to voice another group of people some find at fault: witnesses who say they saw signs, but didn't act on them.

"People don't want to falsely accuse somebody of something and so people will sometimes go, 'well I don't think that person would do that thing,' or 'I'm probably just imagining this,'" explained Dr. Angela Sims with the Children's Center at the Pastoral Institute.

However, some find that psychological reasoning irrelevant, posting comments online like " If you see signs of abuse and do not report it you're just as guilty." Others see why there may be hesitation to alert authorities, posting "He really didn't see the whole picture, just a small piece of the puzzle."

"Cursing at a child, yelling at them all the time, always saying negative things," explained Sims as he elaborates on the many red flags people can look for if they suspect a child is being abused.

Behavior from abusive parents can include showing little concern for a child, constantly blaming a child for problems, using harsh physical discipline, limiting a child's contact with others, and demanding an inappropriate level of physical or academic performance.

"We're not required to know if there is abuse, it's if we suspect," said Sims, which is a rule of thumb for teachers, doctors, and psychologists who are mandated by law to report any suspicions that arise.

If you feel something is off, officials remind everyone a report doesn't mean you will tear a family apart. It will simply prompt an investigation that could save a life.

"Child welfare agencies work with the family to try and preserve the family as much as they can, there are circumstances that obviously can not do that," said Sims.

You can report abuse to the Georgia 24/7 hotline by calling 1-855-GACHILD / 1-855-422-4453.

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