Binghamton, NY (WBNG Binghamton) There have been three reports of serious child abuse in as many days in the Southern Tier. Overall, statistics for child abuse are increasing at an alarming rate.
Last year in Broome County, there were more than 4,000 reported cases of child abuse, which is more than county ever experienced.
The trends are continuing. The county and Crime Victims Assistance Center in Binghamton have seen a record first quarter with child abuse cases.
The center says everyone can help bring down that number. Now that schools are ending for the summer, it's even more important for neighbors, friends and family to look out for warning signs, officials say.
The executive director of the Crime Victims Assistance Center, Raini Baudendistel, said most child abuse cases are instances of neglect, rather than sexual or physical abuse.
Baudendistel said neighbors need to listen for yelling or arguing coming from homes, look for bi-lateral bruising on children -- like bruising on both arms or around the neck -- and if the child or their parents are telling stories that don't match up or make sense.
"I really think it's about keeping our eyes and ears open, and not being afraid to do some kind of mobilization with our own person, whatever they're comfortable with. If you're comfortable making an anonymous call do that, if you want to call law enforcement, do that," Baudendistel said.
She adds that child abuse is more common than people think.
"Statistically we're talking like one in six kids. So, you think about, you know, your own kids and a few of their friends, and chances are somebody has been abused in some way," Baudendistel said.
Baudendistel went on to say the county and the center are unsure why child abuse numbers are on the increase, but she believes it may have something to do with the harsh winter, the economy and the growing heroin use in Broome County.
She adds the center and the county have been working together to bring child abuse prevention education into the community.
For more information on child abuse signs and who to call, click here.