Spotting child abuse can sometimes be difficult. And for first responders, who often are faced with these situations almost daily, it's critical to understand and look for signs.
That’s why Williamson County EMS and Williamson County Children's Advocacy Center is rolling out a special training video to help emergency workers detect abuse.
After six months in the making, "Recognizing Child Abuse for First Responders" was released this week.
The 43-minute training session breaks down the do's and don'ts for first responders encountering a child they suspect may be abused.
“It took me a while to kind of wrap my head around about approaching this but I truly feel that there's some really good information in there,” Outreach coordinator Amy Callaway said.
The video discusses what physical abuse looks like and how to be mindful of the child’s body language, such as stepping back when people approach them or avoiding physical contact.
The number one rule: don't ask too many questions.
"Because if we try to learn everything… fills them with fear…makes them think they are in trouble, may keep them from telling that very important story,” Williamson County EMS clinical practices Captain Dan Cohen said.
Instead, the group says earn to recognize physical, emotional and behavioral signs, then report it.
"It's human instinct to want to go dive into everything but it actually ends up causing a lot of problems in investigations,” Callaway said.
In 2012 the center saw 553 children, all interviewed for suspected child abuse or witness to a crime, last year that number jumped to 770.
CAC says over the last 20 years the center has seen almost 9,000 children.
More than 60 percent of child abuse cases are sexual abuse, the center stated.
The center hopes the video will reach more than 500 first responders in the Central Texas area to help cut down those numbers.
“So more boots on the ground to be working with those kids, the more likely we are to say, hey this kid might be in trouble, and them the help that they need,” Callaway said.
By law, anyone ages 18 and older must report if there is suspicion of child abuse. To report you can click here or call 1-800-252-5400.
Click here to view the EMS training video. Warning, some graphic images are displayed.