What is Child Abuse?
Child Abuse can be defined as a "non-accidental" injury or pattern of injuries to a child. Child abuse is damage to a child for which there is no "reasonable" explanation. Child abuse includes non-accidental physical injury, neglect, sexual abuse/molestation, and emotional abuse. Child abuse can encompass a spectrum of abusive actions, from acts of commission, to lack of action or omission. Child abuse can start before the birth of the child and can have adverse effects on the child, such as failure to seek appropriate prenatal health care during pregnancy or maternal drug/alcohol abuse.
Key Facts on Child Abuse
- Approximately 3 million child abuse reports are made each year.
- Child abuse is reported - on average - every 10 seconds.
- Nearly one-half of substantiated cases of child neglect and abuse are associated with parental alcohol or drug abuse.
- Each day in the United States, more than 3 children die as a result of child abuse in the home.
- Most of the children who die are younger than 5 years of age.
Types of Child Abuse
Physical abuse includes anything a parent/caregiver does that results in physical harm to a child. Physical abuse may happen if a child is punished harshly, even though the parent/caregiver may not have meant to hurt the child. Physical abuse may result in a minor injury (such as a bruise) to a more serious injury, which could cause lasting damage or death (for example from shaking a child).
Sexual abuse occurs when a person uses power over a child, and involves the child in any sexual act. This abuser is more powerful because of age, intelligence, physical strength, control over the child, and the child's need to be taken care of by others. The offender gets the child to participate by using threats, bribes, lying and taking advantage of the child's trust. Most sexual offenders are people the children know.
Neglect is when a parent/caregiver does not provide for the basic emotional and physical needs of the child on an ongoing basis. Examples of neglect include not providing the proper: Food, clothing, housing, supervision, safe surroundings, personal health, medical and emotional care, and education. Children who are neglected physically and emotionally may not develop normally. Some children may suffer permanent damage.
Emotional Abuse occurs when a parent/caregiver continually uses any of the following when interacting or disciplining a child: Rejecting, criticizing, insulting, humiliating, isolating, terrorizing, or corrupting. Children who witness violence in their home may suffer emotional damage watching a loved one being physically or verbally attacked.
Signs and Indications of Child Sexual Exploitation
Many times, some of these behaviors may have other explanations. It is important for you to be aware of these signs and indicators and be prepared to assist and support your child no matter what the cause of these symptoms or behaviors.
- Changes in behavior, fearfulness, withdrawal, extreme mood swings, excessive crying.
- A fear of certain people, places, or activities; an extreme fear of going to a certain place.
- Showing an unusual interest in sexual matters. Acting out inappropriate sexual activity.
- A sudden acting out of feelings or aggressive or rebellious behavior.
- Behavior problems at school and/or home.
- Regression to infantile behavior; clinging.
- Pain, bleeding, rawness, itching, or fluid, in the private areas.
- Nightmares, fear of going to bed, other sleep disturbances, or bed-wetting.
- Poorly explained injuries, multiple bruises, rashes, cuts, limping.
What To Do If A Child Discloses Sexual Exploitation
Children seldom lie about acts of sexual exploitation. It is important that a child feels that you BELIEVE what he or she has told you. Support the child and notify the authorities. Children fear telling others -- especially parents and those in authority positions, this is normal. Make sure that the child knows that telling what has happened to them is the RIGHT THING TO DO and that you will PROTECT him or her from FUTURE HARM.
Respect the child's privacy. Accompany the child to a private place where he or she can tell what has happened to them. DO NOT discuss the incident in front of people who do not need to know what happened. Express your LOVE and CONFIDENCE with words and gestures. Show physical affection.
Keep the lines of communication open with the child. It is vitally important that the child believe that you are sympathetic, understanding, supportive, and optimistic so that he or she will feel comfortable in making additional disclosures and in discussing feelings. You must notify the child protection, youth services, child abuse, or other appropriate social services organizations. The police, sheriff's office, or other law enforcement agency MUST ALSO BE NOTIFIED. Seek out appropriate medical attention if you think the child has been physically injured. Often a child who has been sexually exploited is also physically injured. Ignoring the incident, minimizing the incident, or acting as if it did not happen is not going to help the child deal with the exploitation. Consider the need for COUNSELING for the child. In deciding what counselors to use, be extremely cautious, look for someone who is qualified, ethical, and experienced in cases of sexual victimization.
How to Prevent Child Sexual Exploitation
What You Can Do:
- Talk with your child about sexual abuse.
- Teach your child which body parts are private.
- Listen when your child tries to tell you something. Pay careful attention to your child's fears; be supportive of everything they confide in you.
- Know where to find your children at all times. Be familiar with their daily activities and friends.
- Pay attention to changes in your children's behavior.
- Teach your children that they have the right to say NO to what they sense is wrong and to trust their own feelings.
- Give your child your time and attention.
- Teach your children that no one should touch them in a way that makes them feel uncomfortable or approach them. If someone does, they should tell their parents, teacher, or someone in authority immediately.
- Be cautious about babysitters and/or other individuals who have custody of your children.
- Be watchful of an adult or teenager who is paying an unusual amount of attention to your children or giving them expensive or inappropriate gifts.
Share the Following Safety Rules with Your Children:
- If you get separated from your parents when you are out in public, don't wander around looking for them. Quickly go to a checkout counter, the security office, or the lost and found and tell the person in charge that you are lost and need help in finding your mom and dad.
- Do not get into a car or go anywhere with any person unless your parents have told you that it is okay.
- Stay away from anyone who follows you on foot or in a car; don't go near a car to talk to the people inside.
- Grownups should not ask children for help; they should be asking older people.
- No one should tell you that your mother or father is in trouble and that he will take you to them, ask you for directions or to help them look for a "lost puppy."
- If someone tries to take you somewhere, quickly get away from them, yell or scream, and run to some place that you know is safe.
- You should never go places alone; use the "buddy system."
- Never leave the yard or play area or to go into someone's home without asking your parents for permission first.
- Never try to get a ride home with anyone or hitchhike unless your parents have told you it is okay to ride with him or her.
- You should never keep a "special secret" if someone asks you to. If he or she does, tell your parents or teacher.
- Do not let someone you don't know take your picture, tell him or her NO and tell your parents or teacher.
- No one should touch you in your private areas. You should not touch anyone else in those areas if they ask you to. Your body is special and private.
Facts About Domestic Violence
Domestic violence is a leading cause of injury to women in Muscogee County and nationwide. More than 4,000 women are killed each year in this country by their boyfriends or husbands. That's not counting men and children, who are also victims of domestic violence. Yet it is only recently that Americans are beginning to recognize that family violence is much more than a private matter -- it is an epidemic that impacts the lives of everyone, in every community, business, and family.
Domestic violence knows no bounds. Women living in violent homes often carry this experience with them to work, and it shows -- in the form of lost productivity, stress, increased healthcare costs, employee absenteeism and turnover, and too often workplace violence. The U.S. Justice Department estimates that, in 60,000 incidents of on-the-job violence each year, the victims know their attackers intimately, and 74% of employed battered women are harassed by abusive husbands and partners in their work environment.
- Acts of domestic violence occur every 9 seconds in the United States.
- 6 million women are beaten each year by their husbands or boyfriends.
- Battering is the single major cause of injury to women.
- About half of all couples experience at least one violent incident
- 21% of all women who use the hospital emergency room are battered.
- 1 in 4 female suicides were victims of family violence.
- Children who have witness abuse or have been abused are 1,000 times more likely to abuse a spouse or child when they become adults.
If you are a victim of Domestic or Family Violence, help is available. If you are in IMMEDIATE danger you should contact local authorities NOW by dialing 911.
Signs of Domestic Abuse
- Victim wearing inappropriate clothing - during summer months, the wearing of jeans or long-sleeved shirts
- Total demeanor change - a victim may become very quiet in the presence of the abuser when before the abuser entered, the victim was laughing and joking
- Bruises and scars
- Time with family is often very minimal or the victim is only allowed to visit family with the abuser
- Victim often in financial need
Warning Signs of Potential Violence
- Did he grow up in a violent home?
- Does he tend to use force or violence to solve problems?
- Does he abuse alcohol or other drugs?
- Does he have strong traditional ideals about what a man should be and what a woman should be?
- Is he jealous of other relationships - not just with other men - but also with women friends or family members?
- Does he have access to guns, knives, or other lethal instruments?
- Does he expect you to follow his orders or advice?
- Does he go through extreme highs and lows?
- When he gets angry, do you fear him? Do you find not making him angry becomes a major part of your life?
Protection Against Domestic Violence
- Are you afraid of your partner's temper?
- Are you overly concerned about what kind of mood your partner is in?
- Your partner prevents you from seeing your friends or family, or alienates them so that they are uncomfortable being around him.
- Your partner threatens to hurt you, the children, your family, friends or pets.
- Your partner yells at you, reprimands you, or demeans you in public.
- Your partner hits, slaps, pushes or shoves you, pulls your hair, or inflicts physical injury on you in any way.
- Your partner prevents you from getting, or keeping, a job.
If you need help, contact the Muscogee County Sheriff's Office at (706) 653-4225, or the Columbus Police Department at (706)653-3000. If you or someone you know is in immediate danger, call 911.
Leave your current location, or have someone stay with you. Go to a battered-women's shelter. Call Columbus Alliance for Battered Women at (706) 324-3850 for emergency assistance or ongoing needs.
Get medical attention from your doctor or hospital emergency room. Ask the staff to photograph your injuries and keep detailed records in case you decide to take legal action.
In Georgia: 1-800-33HAVEN (1-800-334-2836)
In Alabama: 1-800-650-6522
Sex Offender and Sex Crime Facts
- One reported forcible rape or attempted rape takes place approximately every six minutes in the United States. This statistic does not included unreported rapes or other sexual assaults, including assaults against men or many children (boys, or girls sexually assaulted but not raped).
- A history of physical abuse, sexual abuse, or neglect can be found in the background of many adolescent sex offenders.
- 75% percent of women raped are between the ages of 15 and 21. The average age is 18.
- Only 16 percent of rapes are ever reported to the police.
- In the United States, every 2-3 minutes a woman is sexually assaulted.
- 87% of all sexual assault victims are female.
- The single most effective strategy used to stop an assault is an immediate physical and verbal response.
- 97% of all sexual assault offenders are male.
- 85% of all sexual assaults are committed by a family member, friend, or acquaintance of the victim.
- In over one-third of all sexual assaults, the assailant attacks the victim in the victim's own home.
- Rape is the most under-reported crime in the United States.
- There are over 600 sex offenders in Muscogee County. Use the link below to locate sex offenders near you.
Go to OffenderWatch »
Should the Unthinkable Happen - What You Should Do...
How should you handle a rape attempt? It depends on your physical and emotional state, the situation, the rapist's personality. Surviving is the goal.
- Try to escape. Scream. Make noise to discourage your attacker from following.
- Talk, stall for time, and assess your options.
- If the rapist has a weapon, you may have no choice but to submit. Do whatever it takes to survive.
- If you decide to fight back, you must be quick, determined, and effective. Target the eyes or groin.
Sexual assault victims are usually in a state of shock after a sexual assault. They are unsure about what to do and whom to tell. This reaction may last several hours or several days.
Detached calm, anger, loss of trust, shame, fear, and depression are some common reactions to sexual assault but vary with each sexual assault survivor. These may be more lasting than the initial stage of shock. The impact of a sexual assault is often felt strongly for a year or more and is never forgotten. The survivor may be able to put the experience into a different perspective with time. The impact varies with the individual and varies over time. The support of those around her/him is very important to the victim's recovery.
- Report rape or any sexual assault to the police or rape crisis center. The sooner you tell, the greater the chances the rapist will be caught.
- Preserve all physical evidence. Don't shower, bathe, change clothes, or throw any clothing away until the police or rape counselor say it's okay.
- Go to a hospital emergency room or your own doctor for medical care immediately. Don't go alone. Ask a friend or family member to go with you or call a rape crisis center or school counselor.
- Get counseling to help deal with feelings of anger, helplessness, fear, and shame caused by rape. It helps to talk to someone about the rape, whether it happened last night, last week, or years ago. In deciding what counselors to use, be extremely cautious, look for someone who is qualified, ethical, and experienced in cases of sexual victimization.
If Someone You Know Has Been Raped
- Believe her or him.
- Don't blame the victim.
- Offer support, patience, and compassion to help the rape victim work through the crisis, heal, and emerge a survivor.
Sexual Assault and Rape Prevention
Use Your Head:
- Be alert! Walk with confidence and purpose.
- Be aware of your surrounding - know who's out there and what's going on.
- Don't let alcohol or other drugs cloud your judgment.
- Trust your instincts. If a situation or place makes you feel uncomfortable or uneasy, leave!
- Make sure all doors (don't forget sliding glass doors) and windows have sturdy, well-installed locks, and use them! Install a wide-angle peephole in the door. Keep entrances well lighted.
- Never open your door to strangers. Offer to make an emergency call while someone waits outside. Check the identification of any sales or service people before letting them in. Don't be embarrassed to phone for verification.
- Be wary of isolated spots - apartment laundry rooms, underground garages, parking lots, offices after business hours. Walk with a friend, co-worker, or security guard, particularly at night.
- Know your neighbors, so you have someone to call or go to if you're scared.
- If you come home and see a door or window open, or broken, don't go in. Call the police.
- Avoid walking or jogging alone, especially at night. Stay in well-traveled, well-lighted areas.
- Wear clothes and shoes that give you freedom of movement.
- Be careful if anyone in a car asks you for directions - if you answer, keep your distance from the car.
- Have your key ready before you reach the door - home, car, or office.
- If you think you're being followed, change direction and head for open stores, restaurants, theaters, or a lighted house.
In your car:
- Park in areas that will be well lit and well traveled when you return.
- Always lock your car - when you get in and when you get out.
- Look around your car and in the back seat before you get in.
- If your car breaks down, lift the hood, lock the doors, and turn on your flashers. Use flares. If someone stops, roll the window down slightly and ask the person to call the police or a tow service.
- Don't hitchhike, ever. Don't pick up a hitchhiker.
Keeping our community safe is one of the primary responsibilities of the Muscogee County Sheriff's Office. As a citizen, you can help reduce your chances of becoming a victim of crime.
Who Benefits From Crime Prevention?
You DO! Every citizen reaps the benefits:
- Criminals are apprehended, prosecuted, and convicted
- Stolen property is recovered
- Vast amounts of narcotics are taken off our streets
- Hundreds of investigative hours are saved
Most criminals are looking for an easy target. They don't want witnesses and they don't want a lot of noise. The more difficult you make it for the would-be criminal, the more likely he or she is to move on.
This page is dedicated to providing you with helpful and important information to aid in the safety of you and your family and our community.
How Can You Become Involved?
Crime Stoppers/Gun Stoppers of Columbus is a community based program designed to help law enforcement solve crime by setting up a system that allows the public to phone in tips anonymously and receive rewards up to $1,000 for information that leads to an arrest or indictment.
If you have witnessed a crime or have information regarding a crime that has occurred, please call (706) 653-3188. Available 10 a.m. - 10 p.m. Monday - Friday. You do not have to give your name and all calls are kept confidential.
Go to CrimeStoppers »
Crime Prevention Services
One of the most requested services provided by the Sheriff's Office is the Child Fingerprinting Program. The Sheriff's Office participates in numerous fingerprinting events on behalf of organizations, schools, churches, and community agencies to provide parents with a complete set of fingerprints for their children. Children of all ages can be fingerprinted. The Sheriff's Office also provides free fingerprinting for adults as a community service for foster parents, community volunteers, teachers, CASA volunteers, CONTACT volunteers, and renewal for gun permits. Fingerprinting can be obtained Monday - Friday, 9 am - 4 pm at the Sheriff's Office.
The Sheriff's Office will gladly provide bomb sweeps for civic events, corporations, and government buildings and functions. The Sheriff will provide the Officers, Explosives Dog, and Bomb Technicians necessary to conduct this service.
The Sheriff's Office will conduct "Threat Assessments" for corporations and businesses to determine if they need to implement new procedures and guidelines that will help make them a more difficult target for violence, threats, and terrorist attacks.
Information for Teens
Did You Know?
- Teenagers from the ages of 12-19, especially GIRLS, are the most victimized segment of the population in the United States.
- The average victim of abduction and murder is an 11-year-old girl, who is described as a "low risk, normal" kid from a middle class neighborhood with a stable family relationship who has initial contact with an abductor within a quarter mile of her home.
- Teenage girls are among the most frequent victims of sexual assault. Sixty-one percent of all rape victims are younger than 18.
- Many times things happen and nobody finds out about it because no one wants to talk about it. WHY? Because you are embarrassed and ashamed, feel guilty and betrayed, afraid and mistrustful. If it happens to you, talk about it with an adult you trust. You need to tell, to protect yourself and to protect others that could be victims.
Applying for a Driver's License
- Applicant must reside in Georgia and furnish valid residence address. The following items will be accepted as proof of residence: utility bill, bank statement, rental contracts and/or receipts with valid Georgia residence address, employer verification, Georgia license issued to parent, guardian or spouse.
- Applicant must be 18 years old for classes A, B, and C, 15 years old for class C instructional permit, 16 years old and must have held an instructional permit or license or combination thereof, for one full year for a Class D. A certified copy of the motor vehicle report from the former jurisdiction will be required in order to give credit for a license or permit held in another state.
- Parental consent is necessary for minors.
- All applicants under the age of 18 will be required to show they have completed a course on alcohol and drugs (ADAP). This course will be taught in the Georgia state school system. Instructors will be authorized by the Department of Public Safety.
Your Learner's Permit
- You may apply for a regular learner's permit after your 15th birthday.
- You may apply for a regular or motorcycle license after your 16th birthday.
- All applicants under the age of 18 will be required to show they have completed a course on Alcohol and Drug Awareness before they are issued a driver's license. This course will be taught in the Georgia State School System. Instructors will be authorized by the Georgia Department of Public Safety.
- All applicants under the age of 18 must provide proof that either he/she is currently enrolled in school, has parental permission to withdraw from school, or has received a GED, a high school diploma, or completed high school. Forms for school attendance or withdrawal are available from the local school or Driver License Office.
- You may apply for a commercial driver's license after age 18.
Your Car - Use of Colored Lights
Only authorized Law Enforcement vehicles can have colored or flashing lights in use. It is against the law to have flashing blue lights on a vehicle other than an authorized emergency vehicle. Having flashing blue lights on a vehicle can lead to a felony arrest resulting in a find up to $1,000 and five years in prison. The use of strobe lights on a vehicle is not advised. Caution should be used against the use of any flashing/strobe colored lights.
Your Car - Engine Modifications
It is illegal to modify any emission control equipment. Emission control standards should be maintained.
Your Car - Tag Covers
It is legal to put a cover over your vehicle tag as long as it is clear and does not obstruct any part of the tag. Tinted or colored covers that make it difficult to read a tag are illegal.
Ways you can lose your license:
Dropping Out Of School:Not graduating from school without a parent or guardian's permission may be grounds for suspension of driving privileges.
Unexcused Absences:Staying out of school for more than 10 consecutive school days in a semester or 2 consecutive quarters can lead to the loss of a permit or license.
Being Suspended From School:A student's privilege to operate a motor vehicle may be suspended, if he or she is suspended from school for: threatening, striking, or harming a teacher, another student, or school personnel; possessing or selling alcohol or other drugs on school property; possessing or using a weapon on school property.
Being Convicted of a DUI within a 5-year period:The driver will lose their license for 1 year. Your driver's license may be reinstated after the Department of Driver Services has held it for 180 days, provided that the driver has completed an approved risk reduction program and pays a reinstatement fee.
Operating a vehcile without insurance:The driver will lose his or her license for a minimum of 60 days. The license may be reinstated after the Department of Driver Services has held it for 60 days, provided that the driver submits a valid insurance certificate and pays a reinstatement fee.
Possessing an Illegal Drug:The person will lose his or her driver's license for a period of 180 days for the 1st offense, 3 years for the 2nd offense, and 5 years for the 3rd offense. The person does not need to be operating a motor vehicle at the time of the drug offense to lose his or her license. No permits are available.
Tips for Kids
- Always tell your parents where you will be. Never go anywhere without permission. Keep your parents informed of your whereabouts.
- Travel in groups or with a buddy. There is safety in numbers.
- Never travel in dark and lonely areas.
- Never get into cars with strangers for any reason. Never hitchhike. Never take presents from strangers.
- Never let anyone touch you -- especially in an area covered by a bathing suit, and if anyone does, you should tell someone about it. If anyone touches you in a way that feels bad, yell and tell. It is your body and no one has a right to make you feel bad. This includes friends and relatives.
- Don't answer the door when you are home alone or tell people you will be home alone.
- If someone persists in calling or trying to get in, call the police (911) at once.
- Never baby-sit in a home you do not know.
- DO NOT RUN AWAY FROM HOME. If things are impossible at home, speak to your teacher or minister about it. They will help you. Nothing is impossible. There are people who will help you. If you run away, you will be at the mercy of the people on the street.
- Never accept any offers of alcohol, cigarettes or drugs.
Tips for Parents
- Have your child fingerprinted and keep the card in a safe, accessible place. Keep photos with the fingerprints and keep them updated along with an accurate description, including scars, etc. The Muscogee County Sheriff's Office frequently performs this service at schools, day care centers and shopping centers.
- Be sure your younger children know how to use the telephone and who to call (including 911).
- Know where your child is at all times.
- Never leave your child alone in a car.
- Don't put your child's name -- first or last -- on hats, caps, jackets, bikes, etc. Remember, a child responds to a first name. A person using that name will automatically not be thought of as a stranger.
- Teach your children to avoid strangers.
- Don't let your younger children wander alone in the shopping centers. If they get lost, tell them to go to a police officer, security officer or a cashier for help.
- Know your children's friends.
- Get involved in your children's activities.
- Teach your children which homes are "safe" to go into when you're not around.
- Listen when your child tells you that he or she doesn't want to be with someone. Find out why.
- Notice if someone pays undue attention to your child.
- Never belittle any fear or concern your child has -- real or imaginary.
Home Security Checklist
- Be sure your outdoor lighting illuminates all entrances to your home.
- Shrubbery should be cut back to discourage burglars from hiding near your window and doors. Keep your yard well maintained. Store ladders and tools in a locked area when not using them.
- All entrances should be kept locked at all times, including your garage door.
- Install a peephole in your front door.
- Windows and sliding glass doors should be secured with auxiliary locks or pinned with a nail. To avoid having your sliding glass doors removed during a burglary, leave the screws in the track.
- Deadbolt locks should be used on all exterior doors (single or double cylinder with a minimum one inch throw is recommended).
- Don't hide keys in mailboxes, planters or under doormats. These are the first places burglars look. If you have a trusted neighbor, give them a key.
- If you return home and think your home has been entered, don't go in. Call the police from a neighbor's home or public telephone.
- Make sure your home appears occupied. Put timers on your lights and set them to go off at different times.
- Have your newspaper and mail held, or picked up by a friend or neighbor.
- Close and lock your garage door. Don't forget to disconnect the automatic opener.
- Do not close all drapes or blinds. This is a dead giveaway that you are out of town.
- Notify the police that you are leaving town, and provide them with the dates you will be away and an emergency phone number.
Avoiding Crime Away From Home
- Don't carry large sums of money, jewelry or valuables.
- Don't park your car or walk in dark or poorly lit areas.
- Don't drive through unfamiliar neighborhoods or on dark streets. If you are lost, drive to the nearest public place and ask for directions.
- Never leave small children unattended in your vehicle.
- Always drive with your car doors locked.
- Never leave your car key in an unattended automobile.
- Don't leave your packages in your car where they will be visible to thieves. Instead, lock all valuables inside your trunk.
- Don't leave your credit cards in the glove compartment.
- Try not to become a creature of habit. Vary your route and schedule for shopping and conducting personal business.
Basic Facts about Auto Theft
One in five stolen vehicles are left unlocked with the keys in the ignition. When leaving your car, close the windows, lock the doors and take keys with you. Over half of all vehicle thefts occur in residential neighborhoods. If you have a garage, use it! Lock the vehicle and the garage door. If you don't have a garage, lock the car and turn the wheels to the left or right. This makes a thief's job harder. More than two-thirds of total thefts occur after dark. Park in well-lighted areas. If you park in an attended lot or garage, leave only the ignition key with the attendant and do not tell the attendant how long you will be gone.
One of every five larcenies involves the theft of motor vehicle accessories. Consider investing in an alarm system rather than expensive options. Professional car thieves can strip your vehicle completely within minutes. Engrave your driver license number in a remote location on the radio and accessories, as well as the fenders and doors. If a theft occurs, your driver license number will make identification recovery and prosecution more likely.
The longer it takes to steal a car, the more likely a thief will look elsewhere. Automobile manufacturers regularly improve anti-theft equipment they install in vehicles. You may want to consider an anti-theft bar that attaches to your steering wheel, an alarm system or other equipment that will slow down a thief and make the thief look elsewhere.
Recognizing Gang Activity
A youth gang is a group of people who get together on a regular basis to carry out violent, illegal, or anti-social activities, including intimidation, assault, vandalism, burglary and murder. Gang members come from all races and social classes. They can be male or female, starting as young as 7-years-old.The following signs will help you recognize if someone is involved in a gang:
- Hanging out with a new group of friends.
- Showing a change in personality or behavior.
- Abusing alcohol or other drugs.
- Frequently bruised or injured.
- Using unusual hand signs, nicknames or street language.
- Carrying guns, knives or other weapons.
- Writing strange symbols (graffiti) on notebooks and folders.
- Withdrawing from family members or friends.
- Having trouble at school with grades or discipline.
- Obtaining money and valuables without your knowledge.
- Wearing tattoos, jewelry, hairstyles, or clothing that identify a particular gang.
Buckle Up...It's the Law!
Automobile accidents are the leading cause of death and injury among young children, but it doesn't have to be that way. Each year, hundreds of young lives could be saved and thousands of injuries prevented if children were correctly protected while riding in cars. Wearing a seat belt is not only the safe thing to do, it is the law!
- By law, every child who is over 4 years old and under 18 years old must be restrained by a seat belt in a passenger motor vehicle.
- All front seat occupants, regardless of age, must buckle up, even if the vehicle is equipped with an air bag. The driver is held responsible for passengers 15 years or younger who are not buckled up. Passengers 16 years or older can be individually fined if they are not buckled up.
- Any driver who violates this law will be guilty of "failure to secure a safety belt on a minor." The driver may be fined not more that $25.00.
- All children under 18 years of age must be buckled up, no matter where they are sitting in the vehicle.
- The law applies to all cars, pickup trucks and vans operated on Georgia roads.
- Children through the age of three must be secured in a federally approved child restraint seat or safety belt.