Kristi's Kids

Nov 12, 2013 10:21 PM by Kristi Tedesco

Child abuse is escalating in Southern AZ

TUCSON - Firefighters, EMTs and ER doctors are seeing a dramatic rise in child abuse cases. More abuse and neglect cases, with more severe injuries.

Rural Metro Fire Captain, Gordon Walker tells Kristi's Kids "It's hard to understand how a child can be hurt when they shouldn't be... and how somebody could let something like this happen."

Walker remembers one of the more recent cases, involving a 2-year-old boy. He says, the child was "unconscious, was vomiting and had obvious injury to his head."

Kristi's Kids contacted the Pima County Juvenile Courts and learned, that case was one of more than a thousand filed against suspected child abusers this year. The courts are averaging about three cases per day, and physicians are on the front lines.

Dr. Dale Woolridge tells Kristi's Kids, "we have had, over this last year, an unsettling amount of pediatric head injuries that have been abuse related... Whenever we talk about deaths, related to child abuse, it's almost invariable head injuries that results in that death."

Sixty-percent of the child abuse and neglect victims, in Southern AZ, are taken to the Southern Arizona Children's Advocacy Center, in Tucson. This is where the victims of sexual molestation, physical assaults and extreme neglect are given a forensic interview.

According to the Advocacy Center, in 2011, there were 1,120 cases. Last year, that number jumped to 1,330. And, already this year, there have been 1,400 cases.

The key, experts say, is to report the abuse and neglect. If you suspect something, make the call.

Dr. Woolridge tells Kristi's Kids, "We need your eyes. If you see a child who you're concerned may be abused or neglected, tell somebody. Let law enforcement know. CPS has an anonymous call-in number. 9-1-1. Let someone know."

To learn more about reporting child abuse in Arizona, click here.

To learn more about the Southern AZ Children's Advocacy Center, click here.

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