An expert in the Valley says the disturbing child abuse case in Mesa should remind people to take action if you suspect abuse.
“We say trust your gut,” Daphne Young with ChildHelp said. “If you see something that doesn’t look right, you don’t have to be an expert in the field, you can make that call.”
Young serves as the Vice President of Communications and Prevention Education for ChildHelp, the nation’s largest non-profit helping neglected and abused children.
Young said the disturbing child abuse case out of Mesa should remind you to take action if you suspect abuse.
Here are some signs…
“Perhaps an underweight child or a child in your neighborhood that’s always hungry,” she said.
FOR PHYSICAL ABUSE
Aside from bruises and broken bones, “you might look for a child that’s walking to the bus stop in the heat of the Arizona summer with a winter coat on,” Young said.
FOR SEXUAL ABUSE
“This may be a child in your neighborhood that acts out sexually in ways that are inappropriate,” she said.
FOR EMOTIONAL ABUSE
This may be a withdrawn, depressed or anxious child.
“We realize that it’s so painful to hear those stories, but it’s also a time of great hope,” she said.
Young said once a child is removed from the abuser, he or she can start to cope.
“A child will go to a place like this. They’ll receive medical, forensic interviews,” Young said. “We’ll put together a case to prosecute the predators and then begin the counseling process.”
Young said even in the worst cases of abuse, a child is able to recover and lead a bright future with the right help.
“We’ve seen in children whose eyes are completely dead and whose spirits are crushed or who are silenced by abuse and you meet that same child two months later and he or she is laughing and talking,” she said.
If you know a child is in immediate danger, don’t wait. Call 911 right away.
If you’re not sure if what you’re seeing is abuse, call 1-800-4-A-CHILD (1-800-422-4453).
A crisis counselor will help you make that decision and you’re able to stay anonymous.