D.H.S. shares how to spot child abuse

    (KOKH/Bill Schammert)<p>{/p}

    The Department of Human Services (D.H.S.) said new data shows tens of thousands of kids fell victim to abuse in 2018.

    D.H.S. said in Oklahoma, every person has a legal responsibility to report child abuse even if they don't know for sure it's happening.

    Casey White, a communications director with D.H.S. said, "Insuring children's safety, is, you know, that's something that all of us can get behind."

    Last year, 16,000 children in Oklahoma were abused and neglected.

    White said if you see something, say something.

    "Give them all of the information that you know about a family. Talk about where they live, what their family situation looks like. You know, what are you seeing in the kid that's making you think you know, there might be something going on in this family."

    Children going through abuse, typically show warning signs. While it can vary based on the child's age, and type of abuse, look out for things like persistent hunger, lack of medical care, social withdraw, and sudden disinterest in things they were once interested in like school or friends.

    "Bruises, cuts...” White said, “...Things that they can't explain. Injuries that the parents can't explain or the child can't explain."

    White added, neglect is even more common than physical abuse but it's just as serious, and can be even more dangerous.

    "About 89% of cases we saw in state fiscal year 2018 were neglect cases."

    To report child abuse, call the D.H.S. hotline at 1-800-522-3511.

    "Not only can folks remain anonymous, they don't even have to have any sort of proof that abuse or neglect is happening. They just have to suspect that abuse or neglect is happening in a home," White said.

    Oklahoma also has a serious need for foster parents.

    White said there are more than 8,000 kids in state custody in Oklahoma, and they could really use a safe place to stay.

    Find out more about being a foster parent here.

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