Maryland

How to spot child abuse

Mardela Springs child abuse signs 020118

47 ABC - The Mardela Springs child abuse case has shaken folks in Wicomico County and throughout Delmarva.

47 ABC spoke to local experts on why child abuse cases can be so difficult, as well as signs to lookout for if you suspect this is happening.

"The cases are just tough, they are not easy," says Jamie Dykes, the Wicomico County Interim State's Attorney.

Dykes is referring to the challenges that come with prosecuting child abuse cases. One of the hardest things is getting the young victims to speak out.

"They're additionally hard because the offender has total control over the victims, shelter, water, food,  whether they get to school, or have outside interaction or not," says Dykes.

Another issue that prosecutors run into is getting an accurate timeline of the alleged abuse.

"Child abuse cases are often hard because victims are really young, have difficulty recounting dates, or places of the offenses," says Dykes.

Prosecutors also say physical signs of abuse can also wear away by the time it is reported, which is why they say it's important that adults keep a close eye for other signs as well. LifeMark therapists recommend looking at changes in a child's behavior.

"It could be a change in grades, a drop in enjoying things that typically or formally was enjoyable and now is not," says Marion Travers, the Clinical Director and a therapist at LifeMark Inc.

Therapists also recommend listening to kids and creating a safe space where they can communicate.

"Just opening a dialogue, and just asking is everything okay, do you need to talk to anyone, is there anything you want to share?" says Travers.

Finally, if you have the slightest suspicion say something.

"When you suspect anything it is your obligation as a teacher to or in our case a mandated reporter, where suspicious is enough make a report and have child protected services follow up on any of that you are suspecting," says Travers.


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