Experts Offer Warning Signs In Wake of KC Child Abuse Case

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JEFFERSON CITY - In the wake of Wednesday's report of a 17-year-old boy in Kansas City being found chained to a pole, KOMU 8 News spoke with child care officials Thursday to better understand what warning signs exist when a child is being abused or neglected.

Marissa Gunther, Prevention Coordinator at Missouri Kids First, said the responsibility for ending child abuse lies solely with the parents and adults in the community. 

"We really believe it is every adult's responsibility to prevent child abuse and neglect, and one thing they can do is know what the signs and symptoms are," Gunther said.

She said some of the more common warning signs abused and neglected children exhibit are bruises on soft tissue areas of their bodies, such as their stomachs or bottoms, drug or alcohol abuse, ideas of suicide and -- even stealing food from other children at meal times in school.

Gunther also said emotional responses from abused children will vary from child to child. She said there are no standard emotional warning signs. She said some psychological warning signs include acting out, isolation, or a child that acts much older or younger than they actually are. Also, a child may have difficulty forming trusting relationships.

When asked what advice she would give to those who suspect an abused or neglected child, Gunther said that Missouri Kids First encourages individuals to "trust themselves and trust their gut" when it comes to reporting abuse to officials. She also said she encourages individuals to support those families they believe are struggling.

"One of the protective factors against child abuse and neglect is social support. So, if they are maybe seeing that some of those signs are there and there are some risk factors, reach out to them and try to support them," Gunther said.

For information on warning signs of child abuse and how you can help to support those families, visit Missouri Kids First' website at