KOKOMO, Ind. — A man and woman were arrested in Kokomo after a local school contacted police about a student’s bruising.
The Kokomo School Corporation alerted police on March 24 about possible abuse after they noticed bruises on a 9-year-old-girl. The girl was checked out at the hospital, and medical staff determined she was malnourished.
The girl weighed 48.5 pounds. According to the CDC, the average weight for a 9-year-old female is 64.2 pounds.
“She had bruising to her body. She appeared disheveled, dirty,” Brian Seldon with the Kokomo Police Department said. “This is tough to even imagine somebody would do this to your child.”
According to court documents, the girl’s father, Tracy Seats, also grabbed her by the neck and bashed her head into a wall.
The girl told police her father then grabbed a hammer and acted like he was going to hit her, scaring her so much she urinated in her pants.
Investigators said her bones were protruding from her body and neighbors said the girl would go door-to-door asking for food.
Seldon said it was a good thing that someone at the girl’s school was observant and reported the girl’s injuries.
Sandy Runkle with Child Abuse Prevention Indiana said incident like this one are preventable.
“Children are children, they are not little adults,” Runkle said. “They have under-developed brains. They are trying to learn and navigate the world.”
Runkle acknowledged that parenting is hard. However, she said parents have to have self-awareness.
“If you know you’re getting frustrated or if you’re starting to feel that, you need to back off and step away and let somebody else do some caregiving,” Runkle said.
After investigating, police arrested 32-year-old Tracy Seats and 38-year-old Amy Smith for neglect resulting in bodily injury, domestic battery with serious bodily injury to a person under 14 years of age.
Seats was also arrested for intimidation with a deadly weapon as well as strangulation.
If you suspect a child is being abused you can call the Indiana Child Abuse and Neglect hotline at 1-800-800-5556.