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The difference between abuse and discipline
ESCAMBIA COUNTY -- - Child abuse happens more then we'd like to think. There are different forms physical and mental. Both equally damaging to children.
Over the years the way we discipline as adults and parents has changed, but sometimes it's hard to distinguish abuse from discipline.
"If dad had to be told then the belt came off and he would blister you with that leather belt," said Rickie Balkum.
"If I got out of line then my dad put me in line and my mom also," said Tim Madden.
Both men agree they were disciplined and not abused..
"Child abuse is a willful act of someone to injure a child and they are knowingly doing so," said Melanie Fryou, Nemours Social Worker.
Just last week Steven Fillingim was arrested and charged with three counts of child abuse.
He's accused of striking a child on the face and hands with a belt because the child skipped school.
He also said the young girl was lazy, so he made her hold a 20 pound weight in front of her body and an eight pound weight behind her and forced her to shovel dirt for an hour and a half.
He's also accused of hitting her with a switch on the backs of her thighs to the beat of Robin Thicke's hit song "Blurred Lines".
He taped the incident on his phone and sent it to his girlfriend, who contacted deputies.
But, sometimes abuse isn't so clear and it takes someone like a teacher paying attention to catch on.
"You can look at a bruise or you could look at something and you could look at the age of a child and determine is this normal for a two or three year old," said Fryou.
Mental abuse is also a problem, threatening a child or belittling them is damaging to their self esteem.
"It would be things like social withdrawal, regression, regressive behaviors losing potty training, or thumb sucking a gain when they haven't been doing that or there might be extreme in behavior by being extremely aggressive or passive, and socially withdrawn," said Julie Eggen, Nemours Social Worker.
Experts say if help is not sought a vicious cycle could continue.
If you know a child who is being abused in any way call the Florida Abuse Hotline at 1-800-96ABUSE.