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Child Abuse Prevention Month: Knowing The Signs

FORT SMITH (KFSM) — Every 10 seconds in the United States a child abuse report is made, and between four and seven kids die everyday from abuse or neglect...

FORT SMITH (KFSM) — Every 10 seconds in the United States a child abuse report is made, and between four and seven kids die everyday from abuse or neglect in our country, according to Childhelp Foundation.

April is Child Abuse Prevention Month and one local organization is working to bring hope to kids in need throughout the area.

On Tuesday (April 4), Hamilton House is placing pinwheels on the lawn of Mercy Hospital at the corner of 74th and Rogers Avenue in Fort Smith.

Pinwheels are the national symbol for child abuse prevention because it’s a happy and uplifting symbol of childhood that can be used in a number of ways to draw attention to the prevention of child abuse and neglect.

More than 100 pinwheels will be used to help raise awareness in Fort Smith. Each one represents a child that was provided care at the Hamilton House in 2016. The child safety center serves at least six counties in the River Valley, and also provides parenting classes for over one thousand adults.

Organizers hope the pinwheels being placed at one of the busiest intersections in the area will help remind folks that child abuse is preventable.

“There’s a great need for awareness, prevention and education,” said Kim Rickhard with the Hamilton House. “Unfortunately, not all children in the River Valley have a carefree and joyful childhood and we want to bring awareness and education to that,” Rickhard added.

Many signs of abuse and neglect could be overlooked by some people. The Department of Human Services said emotional abuse is hardest to detect.

According to WebMD, a child who is emotionally abused may:

  • Not care much about what’s going on around him or her.
  • Not react normally to pain, other people, or changes.
  • Avoid a certain parent or caregiver.
  • Act more sad, angry or fearful than normal.
  • Not do well in school.
  • Hurt himself/herself on purpose.

A child who is sexually abused may:

  • Not want to go to the bathroom.
  • Show signs of discomfort while sitting, urinating, etc.
  • Running away from home.
  • Knowing more than he or she should about sex.
  • Attempting suicide.

Symptoms of neglect include:

  • Very underweight or overweight.
  • Developmentally delayed.
  • Sick or tired most of the time.
  • Being dirty, or having poor hygiene.

For a full list of tips and signs for parents/caregivers, click here.

If you suspect child abuse or neglect, call the Arkansas Child Abuse Hotline: 1-844-SAVE-A-CHILD or (1-844-728-3244).