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Signs of Child Abuse : KTBS 3 News Investigation - KTBS.com - Shreveport, LA News, Weather and Sports

Signs of Child Abuse : KTBS 3 News Investigation

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It's an alarming  statistic,  Last year nearly 50,000  cases of suspected child abuse were reported to child protective services in Louisiana.

Of that number more than half of those reports were made by mandated reporters -- teachers or medical personnel, for instance who are required by law to report suspected child abuse and neglect cases.

Teachers in particular see daily the unsettled lives some of their students face.

"We have kids that don't even have parents, who are raising themselves  and  no one is home at night  to help with homework," said teacher Sharon Pollock. Even worse are the kids "that come hungry because they didn't have anything to eat the night before." Some don't have a safe place to sleep so they fall asleep in class "because this is the only safe place they have… it's hard to teach a kid like that."   

 

 

The staff at Creswell Elementary in Shreveport is especially sensitive about what happens to their students when they leave their class and return home. The landmark elementary in Highland files the highest number of suspected abuse and neglect cases in Caddo Parish according to school administrators.

 

Many of those calls are made by counselor Beverly Martin-Green.

"I will never forget seeing the scars on this one boys back. Those scars were so deep on his back, it was almost like back in slavery times," said Martin-Green who sat down with Education Reporter Eric James. Martin-Green who has been at the school for the past eight years says it is sometimes hard to tell the difference between what is a real case and what is not.

 "Sometimes children don't always tell you the full truth," said Martin-Green.

And the truth is what Joel Hooper seeks.

"We see abuse and neglect across every socioeconomic boundary, " said  Hooper who is with the Department of Child and Family Services of Louisiana.

No one reason can be pinpointed  to  explain  why Creswell sees the large number of cases. Demographically it is known that a majority of the students come from low income families with multiple children, which can create stress at home.

"During the holidays we see more abuse,  hitting and lots of bruises on children," said Martin-Green.

Martin-Green says she trains teachers to look at the smallest of things, from an unusual drawing , to the type of clothing a child may be wearing,  especially if the clothing is out of season.

"As part of our school policy we require students to take off their jackets when they get to school," said Martin-Green who recalled a case where a boy was wearing turtle neck at the wrong time of the year.

"He had his head down on the desk and I walk up behind him and simply touched his neck and told him to sit up. As he did I was able to see his neck a bit and I could see around his throat and there was a mark from a belt or maybe even tape and it had scarred his neck all the way the around. … that is part of the reason why we have the policy that children take their jackets off."

 Last year more than 26,000 claims of abuse came from mandated reporters  and a sixth of those reports were from right here in Northwest Louisiana.

 Hooper who has spent most of his career investigating abuse  claims says the relationship between the department and the school system is vital. The key questions need to be asked and answered before the department gets involved, which is part of the reason why the department is rolling out a new training program to help school staff identify the signs of abuse.

"Everyone, from the general public to teachers, whoever has contact with children could use additional information on what to look for," said Hooper. 

 

Links to information on Child Abuse. 

 

Child Welfare Fact Sheets 

Mandated Reporter Forms 

Department of Child and Family Services 

Mandated Reporter Training 

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