The recent report of investigators finding a 3-year-old child locked in a small wooden box at North Judson is a horrific tale.

On Dec. 14, officers from the Pulaski County Sheriff’s Department went to the home after receiving a tip about child abuse. They found a young girl inside a locked plywood box. Also in the box were dead bugs, police said.

Sheriff Jeffrey Richwine said it was the worst case of child abuse he could recall.

In a WNDU TV interview, the grandparents said they heard that a 7-year-old boy, their grandson, would often be locked in his room.

Even more troubling is that nine people face charges, not one or two – as if it was solely a misguided parent perpetrating this crime — but nine people knew about this traumatizing form of punishment.

Of the nine, five were teenagers.

The case is a heartbreaking reminder of the ongoing pandemic of child abuse.

The North Judson incident might have been prevented if others recognized the horror of locking a child in a room or box. There are other signs.

Indications of physical abuse could be: unexplained bruises, welts and fractures; dental injuries; burns by cigarettes or immersion. Signs of physical abuse include inappropriate clothing for the weather; being underweight; and having lags in development. There’s often a chronic failure for a guardian to meet the basic needs of a child for food, clothing, education, shelter and medical care.

These are just a few of the signs that neighbors and relatives can visibly see and report to authorities. They could well be the keys to preventing trauma to the victims.

In Jefferson County, we have the organization Prevent Child Abuse of Jefferson County that works with the community to strengthen families through awareness and education. The local phone number is (812) 265-4223. If they can’t help, they can direct you to someone who can.

If you suspect a child is suffering from any type of abuse neglect, report it to Indiana Department of Child Services by calling (800) 800-5556.