Sunday, May 19 2013 9:56 AM EDT2013-05-19 13:56:30 GMT
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LOUISVILLE, KY (WDRB, FOX41) - Gruesome child abuse cases have filled the headlines recently and investigators tell Fox 41, they are also being inundated with cases in Kentucky.
"The child's lower back, his legs, buttocks, privates, it's pretty bad," said Bullitt County Sheriff Detective Scotty McGaha.
On Friday, Detective McGaha said a two-year-old had to be admitted to the hospital for multiple tests which revealed what doctors and investigators feared, another case of child abuse. The same day, a 4-year-old Southern Indiana boy died from what investigators report as a severe beating.
"There's something in the center here that white," said McGaha pointing to a picture of the child's bruised leg.
The Detective said the two-year-old's abuser used some sort of object to beat the child from head to toe. The person now charged with criminal abuse is the toddler's mother, 20 year old Ashley Sneed.
"She denied doing anything to the child," said McGaha.
Detectives tell Fox 41, they are also investigating someone close to the mother as a person of interest for the beating. Solving the case may take time, but McGaha knows it won't be the last child abuse case on his desk.
"We are seeing more and more of it, a lot of cases don't get reported to the media," said McGaha.
Local child advocates say that may have something to do with the recession.
"As the unemployment rate rises, so does domestic violence and so does child abuse," said Therese Sirles, Director of Kosair Child Advocacy.
Sirles sees her share of child abuse working in Kentucky. The Commonwealth leads the country in the highest child abuse death rates and Indiana was dubbed number 8 by the group Every Child Matters.
"We have a very high unemployment rate here in Kentucky with the economic recession as it is and financial instability lots of families are very, very stressed," Sirles said.
The stress often starts at the moment a child is born. In June, Kosair started showing new parents a video which demonstrates what happens to a baby's brain when it's shaken.
"Count backwards from ten, take a deep breathe, stop and consider the child and the consequences of injuring a child and if you have to call a friend someone that will come and take you out of the situation," said Sirles.
Preventing child abuse also means being on the lookout for signs something may be wrong.
"Babies who have bruises on their ears, neck or torso," Sirles said.
Investigators remind everyone to be proactive and report anything that may appear to be abuse because it may save a child's life.
Sneed is in jail at the Bullitt County Detention Center charged with Criminal Abuse.