Expert shares warning signs of child abuse as Charlotte police search for missing parents

According to the National Children’s Alliance, more than 600,000 U.S. children are abused each year.
April marks National Child Abuse Prevention Month in the U.S.
Published: Apr. 13, 2023 at 10:40 PM EDT
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CHARLOTTE, N.C. (WBTV) - Police are continuing to search for parents accused of abusing their 4-month-old child, before leaving the baby at a hospital in Charlotte.

They say Brandon Augustine and Mildred Chestnut claimed the baby boy had been hurt in a car crash, but doctors said the injuries were inconsistent with the description. They’ve since been charged with felony child abuse and arrest warrants have been signed.

With the situation still unfolding this month, at time that also just so happens to be National Child Abuse Prevention Month, WBTV spoke with an expert to identify signs to look for in a case of potential abuse.

Jessie Lindberg, the executive director of Turning Point, a victim services agency out of Union County, said there are ways you can look out for those kids who may be being abused.

She said look out for bruises or injuries that don’t seem right, especially with young kids, who likely couldn’t do the damage themselves.

In older children, signs of depression, decreased interest in activities, a drop in grades, or self-harm may indicate abuse.

Any red flags can be reported anonymously by calling law enforcement or your Child Protective Services agency.

“In North Carolina, every single adult is a mandated reporter,” Lindberg said. “So, if you suspect child abuse, physical abuse, sexual abuse, whatever it is, you are actually mandated to report that to law enforcement or DSS. That’s a law.”

The National Children’s Alliance says more than 600,000 children are abused in the U.S. each year.

Lindberg said you should try not to ask the child too many probing questions, so as to avoid re-victimizing them. If necessary, stick to the who, what and where of what happened.

“Taking literally five minutes to make a phone call,” she said. “If you’re wrong, you’re wrong, and that’s okay. But at least you stepped up to call. And that could mean the difference not only between a lifetime full of negative effects but maybe life and death if the situation is bad enough for that child.”

The signs do not always indicate child abuse, but several together should throw up a warning sign.

Related: Police searching for adults accused of abusing 4-month-old, fleeing the state