Knowing the signs of child neglect and abuse | #childabuse | #children | #kids

Every year, more than 4 million reports of child abuse are made in the United States. In Mississippi, around 36 children die each year from neglect and abuse.

Last week, 38-year-old Joseph Heard and 21-year-old Hailey Heard were charged with capital murder in the death of their two-year-old. News 25 spoke to Biloxi PD and Child Advocacy Center about recognizing the signs of child abuse and helping to prevent child deaths.

According to, in 2019, state agencies across the U.S. identified an estimated 1,840 children who died as a result of abuse and neglect. That’s an average of five children each day. With four main types of abuse, it’s important to be able to identify which type is taking place. Child Advocacy Center Lead MDT Coordinator Lisa Zimmerman said, “There is physical abuse, sexual abuse, emotional abuse, and neglect. Each of those types of abuse look a little bit different.”

Outside of bruises and burns in a child, it can be slightly difficult to spot abuse, but some signs include being withdrawn, acting aggressively towards others, and acting out in school. Biloxi Police Captain Milton Houseman Jr. said, “Usually the child feels some guilt. They feel ashamed. They are usually scared to tell on that particular person because it may be a family member, a parent, or someone like that.”

More than 70 percent of children who die from abuse or neglect are three years or younger. Majority of cases reported start off as neglect and evolve into sexual and physical abuse. “Physical abuse is those broken bones, those cuts, those lacerations. Sexual abuse which is fondling, sodomy, exposure, exploitation.”

If something is going on, it is important to take action immediately because it can be a life-or-death situation. “You can be an anonymous reporter. It doesn’t mean necessarily that you know something is happening, but if you have suspicion, it is CPS’ job to investigate that to determine whether or not.”

“As the police department, any crime is investigated obviously, we will send an officer over there. We will take the initial report of the complaint and we will look into it.”

Although we can’t prevent abuse, the goal is to bring awareness. “If you see something, say something.”

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