Summertime usually means fewer reported cases of child abuse but, so far this year, the numbers are going up.
No one knows why the number is going up, but the fact is they are, and experts at Children's Mercy Hospital say everyone needs to be aware of it and do their part to stop it.
Sadly stories of child abuse are not uncommon and, when they happen, people like Amy Terreros, a nurse practitioner with the Child Abuse and Neglect Clinic at Children's Mercy, are often an innocent child's first line of defense.
"I heard facial bruising when I got the call and I went in with an open mind, not knowing what I was going to see, and as soon as I saw this child, it was a classic hand print mark to the face," she said.
Terreros says Children's Mercy has seen a jump in the numbers most people don't even like to think about.
"Since school has let out, we've been seeing an excessive amount of cases. We usually get a lull in the summertime and we have been busy," she said.
They are busy with cases of abuse, mainly at the hands of people who are supposed to love and protect children the most. Very often abuse is kept quiet, hidden beneath a shirt or pants. But in many of the most recent cases Terreros showed that the injuries were prominent and many times reported by someone unknown to the child.
"When we see ear bruising we get very, very concerned. It's very specific for a child with physical abuse," she said as she pointed out markings on one picture. "This is clearly a pattern mark, not something you'd expect to see accidental. This is probably an extension cord."
While no one can say for certain why the numbers of abuse cases are growing, everyone can report them. Experts say even if a person just barely suspects that a child is being abused, they shouldn't worry about butting in. They should report it.
"It's our job as a community to protect our children. These are our children and, in some cases, if a parent isn't going to advocate for that child, then we need to advocate for that child to make sure they're safe," Terreros said.
Experts say if a person gets frustrated with their kid, they should take a time out of their own because it's certainly not worth losing their patience over.
If you see or suspect abuse, make a call and you can do it anonymously. In Missouri the number is 1-800-392-3738 and in Kansas it's 1-800-922-5330.
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