Decatur city schools respond to child abuse case

School officials also said it's easier to spot physical abuse in younger children because the teachers have a more intimate relationship with them.

Posted: May 21, 2018 6:08 PM
Updated: May 21, 2018 6:09 PM

The Decatur man who was arrested for child abuse is now out of the Morgan County jail on a $5,000 bond. Decatur officials told WAAY 31. Aaron Bankhead is accused of physically abusing his 9-year-old daughter.

Many neighbors said they don't know Aaron Bankhead because he and his family just moved here a few weeks ago. But were shocked when they heard about the child abuse.

"If they see anything different, they notify the administration and the counselor and we kind of go from there," said Shelley Bowling.

Shelley Bowling is the licensed professional counselor for Decatur City Schools. She told WAAY 31 new teachers train with the department of human resources report if something seems wrong with a student.

"Something is different with this child the last day or two or if there's a marking on this child, that I'm worried about that hasn't been there. So they're good about noticing things," Bowling said.

School staff at Banks-Caddell Elementary school reported a 9-year-old student appeared to suffer from abuse. Decatur police arrested the child’s father, but aren’t saying much about the case.

"And we investigate and do what we need to do and talk to the child. Even when they're trying to cover up some things that are going on. But there's at least one or two teachers in that building that have a strong rapport with that child to get through to them," Bowling said.

Bowling understands many parents discipline their children and sometimes that means giving them a spanking, but she said there's a difference between abuse and discipline.

"But when it gets extreme and they come to school with the markings or signs that it went too far, that's when we have to look at those parenting skills a little bit, and pull back and that's when it becomes a concern," Bowling said.

Other physical abuse signs teachers look out for are a child might be aggressive, on the edge or might wounds after the weekends or after they've been absent.

School officials also said it's easier to spot physical abuse in younger children because the teachers have a more intimate relationship with them.

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