Child abuse and domestic violence has now gathered national attention after the arrest of Joseph Robert Patterson in the death of the child of Vikings Running Back Adrian Peterson. While most people are shocked to hear about the events, people at Child's Voice know that physical harm to children is not uncommon.
"It's definitely an issue within our community but I feel like it's very under recognized. We see 1,300 patients a year but we know that what we are seeing isn't even hitting the top of the iceberg. There's a lot more kids out there that we should be seeing in our communities," Nurse Practitioner Chelsey Shockman said.
Child's Voice is located at the Sandford's Children Hospital in Sioux Falls. They provide medical evaluations for children who may be victims of abuse and neglect. The bulk of the children sent to the center are referred by child protections, law enforcement, and medical providers.
"To make sure the kids get recognized as quickly is really, really important, and then to make sure they get an appropriate evaluation," Dr. Nancy Free said.
Free also points out that something inside the parent or guardian is what can lead to violent behavior.
"Most child's physical abuse occurs because there is a potential for abuse and then a trigger, and sometimes that trigger is normal infant behavior, so crying, issues with toilet training," Free said.
It can be very difficult to detect the signs and to talk about domestic abuse, but it takes a lot of people and effort to prevent abuse.
"Starting with education and prevention with the mother to teach them the signs and symptoms of what to look for. As well as ways to help them cope during stressful situations and then for the people that are around the children, be aware of different signs of child abuse," Shockman said.
Noticing child abuse to prevent further tragedies.
Infants are victims of abuse as well, and a sign that they are being abuse to to check children under the age of 9 months for bruising, because these children usually aren't moving on their own.