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Two reports of child abuse in Rock Hill under investigation

Authorities are investigating two reports of child abuse in Rock Hill.

No arrests have yet been made in recent incidents in which teachers at two Rock Hill elementary schools noticed suspicious injuries on their students and alerted authorities of possible child abuse.

In the first case, on Aug. 22, a teacher at Ebenezer Avenue Elementary School saw three knots on the top of her student's head. The boy, 8, said his father hit him in the head with his fist and a brush at their home, according to a Rock Hill Police report.

The York County Department of Social Services was alerted, and a caseworker told police the boy and his brother both said their father "hits them all the time." The boy also said his father, a 36-year-old Rock Hill man, beats the boys using the ladder of a bunk bed, the report says.

In a separate incident, a teacher at Belleview Elementary School became concerned when she saw a small burn on a 4-year-old boy's arm. The boy said he was burned with a cigarette by a 52-year-old Rock Hill man, according to a report. The report did not list the relationship between the child and the man but noted his mother was not present at the time of the incident.

The boy was taken to Tricounty Pediatrics on Aug. 25, and the doctor said it was likely a "non-accidental burn," the report says.

According to the Administration for Children and Families, a division of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, signs of child abuse can include sudden changes in behavior or school performance, learning problems, a lack of adult supervision at home and extra compliance or passiveness.

Physical signs can include unexplained burns, bites, bruises or fading bruises.

While Elaine Baker, spokeswoman for Rock Hill schools, said the district is not authorized to speak on child abuse cases, she referred to the requirement of school personnel by state law to report any signs of potential child abuse.

"We want to do what is required of us, but we also want to be careful about protecting the identity of the people who make that request," she said.

If teachers or other school personnel suspect child abuse, it becomes a DSS and police issue, Baker said.

In the two cases involving students, DSS was notified and will conduct its own investigation, according to the police report. However, DSS officials could not be reached Thursday for comment.

Both cases are still active and under investigation, Lt. Brad Redfearn said.

The police department receives referrals from DSS if there is a suspicion of criminal activity. The department has a specially trained investigator for children and elderly abuse cases. An independent forensics interviewer is sometimes called in for interviews.

"We take allegations of the abuse of a child seriously and investigate each incident thoroughly," Redfearn said.