4-month-old with multiple injuries renews push to report abuse

YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio (WYTV) – When 22-year-old Alicia Underwood brought her infant son to Akron Children’s Hospital in Boardman last month for a broken leg, they determined he had far too many other injuries for a child so young.

The examination and x-rays showed the baby had suffered numerous rib fracture and both tibias had been broken – all at varying stages of healing.

Deputies worked with Mahoning County Children Services (CSB) and yesterday, Underwood was indicted on two counts of child endangering.

“We are grateful that the system is actually set up the way it was. That we were able to get notified and able to investigate,” said Mahoning County Sheriff Jerry Greene.

The baby, along with Underwood’s three other children, ages 5, 3, and 2, are all in the care of Mahoning County Children Services.

Since the beginning of the year, CSB has initiated 466 investigations of suspected abuse, leading to 160 cases being opened. At the same time last year, they conducted 324 investigations and opened 115 cases.

“We can’t do anything unless we hear about it. We can’t just go knock on doors and do a well-check,” said Jennifer Kollar, Mahoning County Children Services. “A physician, a teacher, pre-school, anybody that is dealing with children is a mandated reporter, but that doesn’t exclude the rest of the community.”

Kollar said anyone who suspects a child is being abused or neglected can call their local law enforcement or children’s services agency.

There are several warning signs to look for if you suspect a child is being abused:

  • Physical signs:
    • Burns, bruises, black eyes, or other injuries that are suspicious or unexplained
    • Unkempt or dirty appearance
    • Malnourishment
    • Inadequate medical or dental care
    • Sexually transmitted diseases or urinary tract infections
    • Wetting or soiling accidents not related to toilet training
    • Discoloration or scarring of genital area
    • Difficulty walking or sitting that may indicate injury to the genital area
    • Pain during urination and/or bowel movements
  • Behavioral signs:
    • Depression and/or general anxiety
    • Fear or anxiety about a particular person or place
    • Being passive and withdrawn or aggressive and disruptive
    • Sudden changes in behavior
    • Abrupt changes in eating habits
    • Major change in school performance
    • Nightmares or other sleep problems
    • Sudden mood swings
    • Frequent absence from school, regular early arrival, or reluctance to go home
    • Unusual knowledge of body parts or sexual language
    • Acting out sexual behavior with toys or other children
  • Additional signs in older children:
    • Self-injury
    • Drug and alcohol abuse
    • Promiscuity
    • Running away from home
    • Suicide attempts
    • Eating disorders