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Number of child abuse cases rising in Spokane

Number of child abuse cases rising in Spokane

SPOKANE, Wash. - Spokane police are trying to figure out who's responsible for abusing a baby so badly he suffered 21 rib fractures and a broken leg.

No one seems to know why, but kids are getting abused almost four times more often than they were from this time last year. Fortunately, there's a Spokane organization – Partners with Families and Children – that works to prevent child abuse and doesn't hesitate to call police when they see it.

"We just try to give families resources for what they need to strengthen their family and be a good nurturing family for their children," Carol Plischke with Partners with Families and Children said.

Partners puts a lot of time into preventing child abuse but its nurses and doctors have also become experts in spotting it and make regular trips to local emergency rooms.

"They, both here at our office and also occasionally get called into the hospital, to do consults for when there may be some suspect of whether or not child abuse is involved," Plischke said.

On March 18 nurse practitioner Theresa Forshag was caring for a three month old boy with broken leg and multiple rib fractures.

"She does a very thorough exam, her documentation is amazing and when necessary, she will get police or child protective services involved," Plischke said.

In this case, Forshag called Spokane police to Sacred Heart Medical Center and told detectives the baby's injuries were no accident. The infant's 17-year-old mother denied abusing the baby and so did her boyfriend who is not the child's biological father. Both of them have refused to take polygraph tests and so the baby is now in foster care.

Partners with Families and Children officials say they have seen a dramatic increase in the number of child abuse cases here in Spokane.

"We really don't understand why or what the reasons are but I know that our medical team, with Theresa and Michelle, they've been called to the hospital to do far more hospital consults this year than ever before," Plischke said.

Police may never be able to prove who injured the baby and that means the boy;'s mother may never get her child back unless she tells detectives who abused her son.