THOMASVILLE, Ga. (WTXL) — The Treehouse Children's Advocacy Center wants you to remember that child abuse can happen in any neighborhood and a child you know may be a victim.
"It is crucial for us to continue the fight against child abuse and also prevent child abuse from happening in our community" said Jackla Lawson.
Jackla Lawson is the Director and Forensic examiner for the Treehouse Children's Advocacy center in Thomas County.
In 2021, the center helped 156 children suffering from abuse.
Out of that number, 74 percent of those cases included reports of sexual abuse.
Lawson said when a report of child abuse comes in, they perform a forensic interviews and forensic medical examines.
"Children are examined from head to toe and a nurse will look for any sign of injury or physical evidence" said Lawson.
Often times abuse is not easily detected. That's why Lawson says adults need open communication to help spot the signs.
"It is very important especially as children get older make sure that a child can go to you about anything without fear of getting in trouble. To make sure they can go to you for help if they have a problem they need help with or if abuse is happening to them or someone they know" said Lawson.
Licensed Mental Health Counselor, Dr. Michelle Mitcham said picking up on behavioral changes can be key in spotting abuse.
"They can be overly compliant or they can be very demanding. They can be extremely aggressive" said Dr. Michelle Mitcham.
And when it comes to steps to protect your child, Lawson said parents and guardians should do these things:
- Teach them about their body parts that are private.
- Identify five safe adults they can talk to if so someone makes them uncomfortable.
- Allow them to process that information and ask questions.
The Treehouse Children's Advocacy Center is encouraging everyone to participate in Child Abuse awareness month by planting a blue pinwheel to show your support.
To find out how you can support head to The Treehouse Children's Advocacy Center.