BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (WIAT) — April is Child Abuse Awareness Month, and the Birmingham Police Department providing information about child abuse situations.      

The Department of Human Resources said it receives thousands of reports of neglect every year here in Alabama and that it’s important that everyone takes responsibility to ensure the safety of all children, whether we know them or not.      

Too often we miss signs of child abuse and neglect, and the BPD wants to help with prevention and make sure that children are safe.     

Health experts said child abuse signs can be behavioral or physical signs, which most commonly begin with sudden changes in behavior or school performance. They told CBS 42 children are really good and masking what they could be going through.

“Those signs can exhibit emotional and maybe behavioral problems with the child,” BPD detective Maximillian Price said. “Those are just a basic start of it. Sometimes they might notice bad grades occurring in school. Maybe they are like standoffish, and sometimes they might notice sexual behavior just like a coping skill. Those are signs like you know teachers and principals can look into, especially if there are acting out of the norm.”

“There is also poor concentration in school,” Jefferson County DHR Director Francine Fenderson said. “Some obvious signs would be bruises and poor hygiene in general. So those are other signs that would indicate abuse or neglect.”

The BPD said if a child shows signs or tells a parent or guardian about a situation of child abuse or neglect, police will investigate the environment of the child, file a report, and then the DHR is notified. They will all conduct an investigation.