At Advocates For Children, we work to empower children and families to lead healthy and productive lives. Whenever we see horrific cases of child abuse, like the recent death of Marissa Kennedy, we are heartbroken.

Child abuse happens across socio-economic lines; across racial and ethnic lines, age and gender. We each have an important role to play in stopping child abuse. If anyone suspects abuse, they should speak up.

It can take multiple reports before authorities open an investigation. People should report any suspicion, even if it seems insignificant; sometimes all that is needed to open an investigation is that final piece to the puzzle. People don’t need to prove abuse is happening, just provide details and information about any suspicions.

Some things to look for:

On babies, look for marks on the skin and injuries in babies not yet walking, such as bruises or fractures. Even babies who are crawling and walking will not bruise (or fracture) easily on their own. Bruising in places that are inconsistent with a fall (such as on their stomach, neck. top of head) is cause for concern.

On preschool/school-age children: Sudden unexplained changes, such as decreased self-esteem, anxiety or depression; children who have knowledge about topics that are too mature for their age (such as sexual information); or behavior that is too mature for their age (like extreme aggression).

Gillian Roy, executive director, Advocates For Children, Lewiston

Editor’s note: To report child abuse in Maine, call 1-800-452-1999. To learn more about risk factors, warning signs and how to report, go to:

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