KODE — April is National Child Abuse Prevention Month. It highlights the hundreds of thousands of cases of abuse and neglect every year — and how the medical community plays a role in identifying the crime.

“Pediatricians, family practice docs. ER physicians. Anybody who’s laying eyes on a child is always keeping their eyes open for signs of abuse and signs that a child is in a situation that is not safe,” said Dr. Beth Garrett, Pediatrician.

In fact, all physicians are mandated reporters for child abuse.

“And when it comes to kids, they can’t speak for themselves. They don’t have their own voice. And so we need to be the voice for them. Other than vaccinations. It’s one of the most important things that we do is be a voice for a child in a dangerous situation.”

There are certain signs that can indicate something’s not right.

“The big thing is, does the injury match the description that the parent has given us? When we look at especially an infant, if an infant’s been injured and that’s not a mobile infant? That’s a big clue,” continued Dr. Garrett.

Keeping an eye out for potential issues can be even more important with the extra stress during the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Put a lot of stress on families, families may have been without work, they may have had financial stresses, there may have been marital stresses or relationship stresses. Kids were home from school and if there were stresses between kids and adults. Anything that raises tension in the home increases the risk for abuse,” she said.