SPRINGFIELD, Mo. -- (01/24/2018) Child abuse is a sad reality all over the Ozarks, as last year the Child Advocacy Center saw almost 1,600 children, bringing to light just how real the problem is.

"I think child abuse is a growing and prevalent issue in our society. It isn't a subject we want to think about, but it does exist," said the Executive Director of the Child Advocacy Center, Linda Saturno.

In Missouri, reports indicate that 40 children out of every 1,000 are victims of child abuse. Locally the numbers are just as staggering, however, as in Greene County alone its estimated that there are at least 15 cases reported every month.

"We tell our kids to be careful with strangers. Parents are always paranoid about strangers, but the surprising thing is that 90% of child victims know their abusers, 90%, and 30% of children who are abused are abused by a family member," said Saturno.

With one in ten children enduring abuse, it's likely that someone you know may actually be a victim. That's why knowing the warning signs of abuse is all the more important.

"It may be that there are multiple bruises on that child, sometimes a child who's been really outgoing may become withdrawn, personality changes."

Saturno says that because abuse thrives in the context of fear and denial, it gives those on the outside the ever-important job of being the voice for the victims.

"It's really all of our jobs to be vigilante and protect children, and to make those reports to the hotline and to help create a society where people do feel responsible to help protect the vulnerable."

Even if you think a child is being abused but you aren't completely sure, you're still encouraged to call the hotline number at (800)-392-3738. An investigation will be conducted after that call, and you never know, it could be the call that saves a child's life.