In light of recent high profile child abuse cases in Western Montana, NBC Montana waned to know how to detect child abuse and how to report it.
Deboruah Madonna has worked with Watson Children’s Shelter in Missoula for 27 years. When it come to child abuse she’s seen it all.
Madonna said the kids who go to the shelter are severe child abuse case. The shelter provides relief for children who are abandoned or neglected by their caregivers or who suffer from physical emotional or sexual abuse.
“A partnership of raising all of Missoula’s Children in that we all need to work together because there are a lot of signs out there for different types of abuse,” said Madonna.
Here are are some signs that something isn’t right. Physical indicators of abuse include bruising, biting or burn marks. Pay attention to emotional signs or a change in behavior like shying away from adults, disruptive sleeping and eating patterns, frequent bed wetting or night terrors.
For kids under the age of five who don’t go to school, their abuse often goes undetected.
“Those young children are often children that don’t have a voice and so they rely on people in the community such as their caregivers, their neighbors maybe the mailman,” said Madonna.
That’s why Madonna touts social responsibility within the community. Madonna said often times the problem with reporting child abuse is the care provider is in denial. She said that’s why the community needs to step in.
“If we all work together we could prevent a lot of abuse and maybe even get help before it ever gets to the point that children are begin so severely abused and we have deaths,” said Madonna.
So making that phone call and speaking for the voiceless could save a child’s life. A life with many years left to be enjoyed rather than endured.
Madonna tells us 14 of the 24 kids at the Watson Children’s Shelter in Missoula are there because their parents are drug or substance abusers.
Shelter employees emphasize child abuse reports can be kept confidential. To report abuse call the child abuse hotline at 1-866-820-5437.