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Sumter Co. Sheriff’s office signs new child abuse protocols

Published: Sep. 20, 2021 at 8:55 PM EDT
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AMERICUS, Ga. (WALB) - The Sumter County Sheriff’s Office said on average, they get 3-4 reports of child abuse or neglect every month.

The sheriff said typically half are unfounded. On Friday, they signed new protocols to ensure they are investigating child abuse cases correctly and carefully.

Sheriff Eric Bryant said every year, they sign off on new child abuse protocols to ensure proper steps are being taken in those types of cases.

“This particular model and protocol is designed to protect our young people. In order to ensure that not only this victim is protected and safe, but we preserve certain evidence and gather it in a manner that the protocol states for prosecutorial purposes,” said Bryant.

A new addition to this year’s protocols is additional resources.

“To help victims and families and situations to provide counseling, sometimes it may require alternate housing for cases where they may live in the same home,” said Bryant.

Eric Bryant is the sheriff of Sumter County.
Eric Bryant is the sheriff of Sumter County. (WALB)

Most of their calls and reports of child abuse come through the school system or medical professionals.

“Meaning something was observed or reported or talked about in school or a doctor’s office observed some form that would possibly lead to neglect or abuse,” said Bryant.

He said if you suspect abuse or neglect, you should call the police or DFACS. You can remain anonymous.

“If you suspect something don’t look right, that gut feeling, contact your local law enforcement, make that known so that it can protect our young people,” said Bryant.

The sheriff said if you report something and it turns out to be nothing, but now fear retaliation, they can help.

“There’s things in place, unlawful communication harassment stalking whatever the case may be. Those cases can be brought against someone that wants to pick or brother somebody that reported what they thought was abuse or neglect,” said Bryant.

He said in many cases where child abuse isn’t occurring, DFACS gives parents tips on how to discipline or respond to a child.

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