AZOO COUNTY, Miss. (Ben Caxton) – Investigators are seeing an increase in the cases of child abuse child neglect and sexual assault.
Yazoo County Sheriff’s Department Chief Investigator Terry Gann handles cases ranging from murder to theft, but investigating child abuse is especially heart wrenching.
“It’s very heartbreaking,” said Gann. “I have children. It’s very disturbing”.
In August, 26=year-old Shenela Crain was arrested for two counts of child abuse. Gunn was called by DHS to a local hospital about the case.
He said the children were beaten and there were grab marks on their bodies.
“The third child didn’t have a mark on her which seemed puzzling until I found that the child with no marks on her was her biological child. The other two were stepchildren,” said Gann.
The sheriff’s department has a backlog of 10 to 12 child abuse cases, including sexual assault.
Authorities say they have found an increase in abuse among children since the pandemic.
Mississippi Child Protection Services reports a 30 percent decrease in reports of abuse to its hotline since April.
Child welfare experts say the reduction in reporting is because the victims are in their homes reporters are not seeing the signs.
“I think it’s attributable in large part to the fact that fewer people because of conditions that we’re living in right now are positioned to identify the warning signs of child maltreatment and report them,” said MS Department of Child Protection Services Interim Commissioner Taylor Cheeseman.
Crain was sentenced to three years suspended with two years to serve. Her stepchildren are in the custody of family.
MDCPS conducts an average of 30,000 investigations per year, about 7,500 of those child abuse cases are found valid.
If you know of child abuse or neglect call the Mississippi Child Protection Hotline at 1-800-222-8000.