April is National Child Abuse Prevention Month
To the editor:
Reports of abuse and neglect have steadily risen since the Indiana Child Abuse Hotline was centralized in 2010. Last year, the Hotline received 225,152 reports of alleged child abuse or neglect, compared to 202,493 reports in 2014.
April is National Child Abuse Prevention Awareness Month, and the Indiana Department of Child Services (DCS) works closely with local Hoosier child advocacy groups in each county to educate communities on the role we all play in protecting children from abuse and neglect. In short, if you suspect a child is being abused or neglected, donít wait! There is no need to spend time debating whether what you see or hear is abuse or neglect, just make the call to 800-800-5556. There are trained child abuse and neglect Family Case Managers to take your call and assess the information.
When DCS gets involved, our priority is ensuring child safety. However, if weíre involved, that means a child has already been harmed by abuse or neglect. As of the end of February, there were 23,289 children in need of services (CHINS), which includes 897 children in Clay, Parke, Sullivan, Vermillion and Vigo counties. That is 897 children too many.
This month, local DCS offices along with child advocacy groups are hosting events to provide resources to communities, in an effort to reduce the number of children that need DCS protection. Preventing child abuse and neglect is the responsibility of everyone in the community. Donít be afraid to make sure children in your community are safe.
Children are 100 percent of our future and deserve the best that communities can offer. We all have a part to play in protecting them, not just during April, but every day. To find out where prevent child abuse events are being held in your community, visit http://in.gov/dcs/3486.htm.
Remember, if you see or suspect a child in danger, donít wait; make the call to 800-800-5556, 24 hours a day, seven days a week, 365 days a year.
Mary Beth Bonaventura Indianapolis
Department of Child Services Director