Child abuse hospitalization on the rise

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OKLAHOMA CITY -- Every year, thousands of Oklahoma children suffer abuse and the number of those children hospitalized for their injuries is on the rise across the United Sates, according to a new study by the American Academy of Pediatrics. 

At Oklahoma University Children's Hospital, Dr. Ryan Brown said he is seeing an alarming rise in the number of children who have suffered abuse.

"It's frustrating. We tell our residents and students and I tell my parents, child abuse and maltreatment is 100 percent preventable," Dr. Brown said.

Preventable but researchers have found the number of abuse injuries needing hospitalization is up 4.9 percent in a 12 year period.

“In Oklahoma, on average we have one child a week hospitalized,” Dr. Brown said. “Unfortunately, we also have about one child die a week due to injuries related to child abuse or neglect." 

When children end up in the hospital due to abuse, doctors said their injuries can range from head trauma to broken bones and bruises.

Doctors attribute the increase in serious injuries to different factors.

"A lot of times it's young people having children so you have kids taking care of kids,” Dr. Brown said. “Other times you may have folks that may be mentally unstable.”

He also said many times the economy has caused people to be more frustrated and they sometimes take that out on children.

Officials at the Department of Human Services said the number of serious injuries is up but abuse as a whole is down.

“Overall, child abuse and neglect is declining but the severity of some of the physical abuse may be increasing,” Director of Communications Sheree Powell said.

Meanwhile, Dr. Brown hopes the community steps up to report signs of abuse.

“That could be a potential fatality later on," Dr. Brown said.

He says it could also stop the cycle of abuse.

DHS urges anyone who has seen signs of child abuse to report it to that office. 

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