CHICAGO (WLS) -- April is National Child Abuse Prevention Month. According to the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services, the agency conducted 86,738 child abuse investigations during fiscal year 2021.
CASA of Illinois reported that more than 146,000 children were associated with those investigations. So, what are the signs, and what should you do if you suspect a child might be the victim of abuse or neglect?
For infants, Dr. Norell Rosado, the interim head for the Division of Child Abuse Pediatrics at Lurie Children's Hospital, said it's something called "sentinel injuries."
"The definition of sentinel injury is any relatively minor injury in a pre-cruising infant that is poorly explained and therefore raises suspicion for child physical abuse most of the sentinel injuries are bruises," Rosado said. "These sentinel injuries they usually proceed a more severe injury or even death."
If you suspect a child is the victim of abuse or neglect, you can call the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services at 1-800-25-ABUSE.
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Another way to help is to become a CASA volunteer. Since 1986, Court Appointed Special Advocates of Cook County, or CASA, has been training everyday people to advocate for children who have been abused or neglected and are now in the foster care system.
These volunteers advocate for children, in court, at school and in the community. Dr. Bonita Carr is the CEO of CASA of Cook County.
"We insure that the services that the court ordered are achieved and appropriate for that child. We insure that children receive educational advocacy to get the appropriate interventional services that are needed. We insure that they get the appropriate care that they need in regards to the mental health services. We also work to add mentorship and additional services that can enhance the child or youth's life such as summer camps, college tours, internships and cultural connections to the community and social and emotional coaching," Carr said.
She said all of these things are imperative "so that a child does not languish in care, but achieves permanency when it is deemed safe and appropriate to return home with their family."
For more information on CASA of Cook County: