We had one of the saddest and most heart-wrenching crimes happen here in Washington County recently.

Without getting into too many of the details (you can read more about it here), the case is summarized thusly: A child is dead from suspected shaken-baby syndrome, the child's mother is experiencing unmitigated grief, and the child's step-father has been arrested and charged with the crime.

What exactly happened will be revealed in time, but one thing we know for sure is that the child didn't deserve what happened to her.

It's up to us to recognize the signs of frustration and anger when it comes to caring for a child. We need to act before it's too late.

From the child welfare.gov website, we learn that there are key signs in adults' behavior that can indicate possible abuse or neglect toward children:

  • Denies the existence of — or blames the child for — the child’s problems in school or at home
  • Asks teachers or other caregivers to use harsh physical discipline if the child misbehaves
  • Sees the child as entirely bad, worthless, or burdensome
  • Demands a level of physical or academic performance the child cannot achieve
  • Looks primarily to the child for care, attention, and satisfaction of the parent’s emotional needs
  • Shows little concern for the child

As far as the children, the child welfare site says to watch for these telltale signs:

  • Shows sudden changes in behavior or school performance
  • Has not received help for physical or medical problems brought to the parents’ attention
  • Has learning problems (or difficulty concentrating) that cannot be attributed to specific physical or psychological causes
  • Is always watchful, as though preparing for something bad to happen
  • Lacks adult supervision
  • Is overly compliant, passive, or withdrawn
  • Comes to school or other activities early, stays late, and does not want to go home
  • Is reluctant to be around a particular person
  • Discloses maltreatment

For information about risk factors for maltreatment as well as the perpetrators, see the webpage Risk Factors That Contribute to Child Abuse and Neglect or the webpage Perpetrators of Child Abuse & Neglect.

If you suspect something is not right, you're encouraged to call the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children's Cyber Tipline, available 24-hours  a day at 800-843-5678.

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