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Crime & Safety

Child abuse cases above average in the CRSA



AUGUSTA, Ga. – Over the last three months News 12 has covered three major child cruelty cases in Augusta. The most recent just two days ago when a four-year-old was admitted to the ICU.

The first case is from February 13 when one-year-old Travis Scott died. Both of his parents face murder and cruelty to children charges accused of turning off his ventilator despite doctors telling them not to.

Then on April 21, a one-year-old is hospitalized with bleeding on his brain and a burn on his leg. The mother’s boyfriend charged in that case.

Now just two days ago a four-year-old was sent to the ICU after his step-father allegedly hit him.

Three major cases in our area in less than three months we asked the experts how common these incidents really are. One child is dead, two more are in the ICU, and four adults are in jail on child abuse charges.

“Does it strike me as particularly bad? Yes. But is it worse than we’ve seen in the past 10 years? Not really,” said Dr. Melissa Bemiller, assistant professor at AU.

Dr. Bemiller says the CSRA is consistently above average when it comes to child abuse cases in Georgia. This chart shows child abuse cases in our Georgia counties per 1,000 children. The highlighted numbers are rates above the state average.

In our area, only Columbia, Emanuel, Jefferson, and Washington counties have numbers consistently below the state average in the last nine years. Doctor Bemiller says reported cases have gone down since the pandemic, but that doesn’t mean abuse has decreased.

“We get a lot of our knowledge about child abuse cases from mandated reporters. The eyes that we had on our children ceased to exist for a while,” she said.

She and her team are now tasked with lowering abuse cases in the CSRA. They plan to start a child abuse prevention course this year to help first responders and other mandatory reporters recognize early signs of child abuse. She says the numbers may get worse before they get better.

“The more we increase knowledge of child abuse the more we increase how to recognize what child abuse looks like. The more we increase the knowledge of how to report it, we will see an increase,” she said.