SIOUX FALLS, SD -
Police say a 14-month-old Sioux Falls boy who was abused died Tuesday from head trauma. Child abuse happens in our own state more often than you may imagine.
At Child's Voice in Sioux Falls, experts see at least three to four children every day who are abused or neglected.
"In 2009, we saw over 1,000 children at Child's Voice to evaluate them because of abuse or neglect concerns," Dr. Edward Mailloux said.
When a child is brought to the facility, Mailloux says the process is just like going to a doctor's office. But along with getting a check up, children are also interviewed on camera.
"And then from there, we make a determination as best we can whether that child has been a victim of child abuse," Mailloux said.
The information is then passed along to other health care professionals and law enforcement. It's a process that's become very familiar for everyone involved.
"Unfortunately, child abuse is extremely common in South Dakota and in the Sioux Falls area. More than half the cases we see are from Minnehaha County," Mailloux said.
While types of abuse and the severity can vary, Mailloux says head injuries cause the most physical harm to children.
"Their skull is very soft. Babies and toddlers are very vulnerable. They don't have the ability to defend themselves. They're small and if you harm them, especially with head injuries, you'll cause them serious harm," Mailloux said.
So serious, it could lead to death. But for that to happen, Mailloux says it takes a lot of force.
"We're talking about a great deal of force applied to a child or baby. It takes a lot of force to cause these types of head injuries that we're seeing," Mailloux said.
Not all injuries are visible; abuse and neglect can have lasting emotional problems.
" Those kids grow up to be extremely dysfunctional adults, grow up with serious mental illness. A lot can't function independently," Mailloux said.
Whether it's physical or emotional, for this agency, it's happening too often.
"It is difficult to see children every day that are being abused or neglected," Mailloux said.
If you have concerns, just making a phone call could save a child's life. To report abuse, contact law enforcement or your local child protective services
© 2010 KELOLAND TV. All Rights Reserved.