WICHITA FALLS, Tx (RNN Texoma) - April is National Child Abuse Prevention Month. Reports of child abuse and neglect have risen in Wichita Falls this year. Child Protective Services says knowing the signs of abuse is important.
The executive director of Patsy's House Children's Advocacy Center, Denise Roberts, said to teach children that they should always say no when they are uncomfortable. She also said teaching them about their bodies and telling them where they should not be touched are ways to educate them.
There are many signs to look out for regarding child abuse. They can range from physical to emotional.
Roberts said, "If a child has unexplained injuries – especially if it's something that's reoccurring or something that you're seeing a pattern of. If a child has a change in behavior, has a fear of going home..."
Changes in school performance, eating habits, how a child interacts socially, hygiene, and knowing about topics that are beyond what they should know for their age are all signs to look out for.
To report abuse, call 911 if the emergency is life threatening and needs to be handled immediately. Call the Texas Abuse Hotline within 24 hours from the time signs of abuse are noticed: 1-800-252-5400.
There are also forms for reporting abuse on their website.
Roberts said many people hesitate to report for reasons like not being sure they should step in and not wanting to get involved. She urges people to think differently, "at the end of the day if you have suspicion of abuse then we want you to report and do your due diligence. Let us make sure that nothing is happening to a child."
There will be more events throughout the Wichita falls area aimed at educating the public about child abuse prevention throughout the month.