Child-advocacy expert discusses what to look for in cases of child abuse

Published: Jan. 13, 2020 at 6:09 PM CST
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The Wichita Police Department makes a pair of weekend arrests in child abuse cases, both involving babies.

The cases, involving injuries to infants, raise concern in the community and highlight a problem Eyewitness News Monday addressed with a child advocacy expert who emphasizes the importance of reaching out for help if you think something is wrong with your child.

In one case, police arrested

In the second case,

The 9-month old girl, found with critical injuries, and the 2-month-old boy found unresponsive, remain hospitalized. While police haven't released details into what happened in each case, child-advocacy experts say there are signs to look out for that may show if a baby is being abused.

"Gut reaction is one of the things we often times dismiss and in child-abuse cases, is extremely important because most frequently, we hear people say, 'you know, I had a concern,' or, 'I wonder if,' and often times, that gut reaction is right on target that there isn't something quite right," says Child Advocacy Center of Sedgwick County Executive Director Diana Schunn.

Signs of possible abuse with children who can't yet verbalize what's happening to them may include interruption in sleep patterns, and not actively gaining weight, Schunn says.

Sometimes, she says, a caregiver needs a break.

"Parenting is stressful to everyone at some level," she says. "It's a change in your sleep. It's a change in your patterns. There are a lot of interruptions and things you have no control over. That's a normal part of being a parent. But sometimes add to that the complexities of life that's going on, and it becomes almost insurmountable in some situations."

She says caregivers shouldn't be afraid to ask for help. This can include an emergency babysitting service, a family member, or "someone else that you know and trust that can take care of your child for a short period of time."

"Those are all different avenues we can utilize to be able to help in those situations that are really difficult and really stressful," Schunn says.

When it comes to child-abuse deaths in Wichita, police say there was one in 2016, two in 2017, three in 2018 and three in 2019.

The Wichita Police Department says if you suspect a child to be a victim of Child Abuse to please reach out to someone using any of the following resources:

• Call 911

• Call the WPD Exploited and Missing Child Unit at 316-660-9494

• Call Crime Stoppers at 316-267-2111

• Call the See Something, Say Something Hotline at 316-559-2282

• Call the Kansas Protection Report Center at 1-800-922-5330

• Call the Kansas Children’s Service League at 316- 942-4261

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