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Trainings Aim to Educate Kentuckians on Early Signs of Child Abuse

Kentucky's rate of child abuse is more than twice the national average, according to data from the U.S. Department for Health and Human Services. (Adobe Stock)
Kentucky's rate of child abuse is more than twice the national average, according to data from the U.S. Department for Health and Human Services. (Adobe Stock)
October 1, 2019

LOUISVILLE, Ky. — Training sessions on how to recognize early signs of child abuse will be held this week in Louisville and Lexington. The events, run by Kosair Charities’s "Face It" movement, are designed to educate social workers, early-childhood educators, emergency medical service providers and concerned community members on how to spot red-flag bruising on children.

Dr. Melissa Currie is a forensic pediatrician leading one of the trainings in Louisville. She said generally speaking, child abuse occurs as an escalation of violence over time.

"What that means for us is that, if we can learn to recognize the early warning signs - the more subtle bruising that happens sort of earlier in the process - we can intervene and help protect these children before the abuse escalates to near-fatal or fatal injury,” Currie said.

The trainings will be held on Friday, October 4, and are free and open to the public. For more information, including information on available continuing-education credits, visit FaceItMovement.org.

Keith Inman, president of Kosair Charities, said six years ago, his organization decided it was time to begin publicly addressing the state's child abuse epidemic.

"Well in Kentucky, we led the nation in incidents of abuse and neglect,” Inman said. “So the fact that we're having these trainings and trying to get more people involved and more organizations involved - because, at the end of the day, child abuse is an adult issue."

Currie said one way to determine whether to be worried about a particular bruise on a child is the “TEN-four” rule.

"So, the T-E-N stands for torso, ears and neck, and the four means any child four years of age or younger,” Currie explained. “And then the second part of that rule is any bruising anywhere on an infant who is not yet pulling up and taking steps."

Research shows far more children experience maltreatment than statistics convey. And Currie said this often can happen because medical or family-services providers miss subtle but important indicators early on.

"For us to help the public understand what kinds of bruises in children are normal and what kinds aren't normal is probably one of the most powerful things we can do to prevent child maltreatment,” she said.

In 2018, there were more than 20,000 reports of suspected child abuse and neglect made to the state's Department for Community-Based Services from Jefferson County alone.

Disclosure: Kentucky Youth Advocates/KIDS COUNT contributes to our fund for reporting on Budget Policy & Priorities, Children's Issues, Youth Issues. If you would like to help support news in the public interest, click here.
Nadia Ramlagan, Public News Service - KY