EARLY YEARS: Children’s Trust marking Child Abuse Prevention Month

35,000 cases of child abuse were reported in Virginia last year
Published: Apr. 12, 2023 at 7:03 AM EDT
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ROANOKE, Va. (WDBJ) -For Children’s Trust, the month of April is a busy one.

“We’re doing a Giving Day on April 19. We’re also doing a huge community celebration day on April 29. Real excited about that, because we’re inviting our non-profit partners and we want lots of families to bring their children out,” says Children’s Trust Executive Director Christina Ballard.

What you might notice most around our hometowns are the pinwheel gardens-- a campaign designed to encourage safer spaces for children.

But child abuse isn’t always easy to see.

“We’re seeing kids not wanting to be at school. Their grades are falling. Not wanting to be home alone with certain adults or just isolating themselves,” says Children’s Trust Director of Prevention Janette Craghead.

According to Children’s Trust, Roanoke City had the highest number of reported cases in the Piedmont Health District:

2,937 cases in Roanoke City

1,571 cases in Roanoke County

“People are reporting. People are speaking up. And I think that’s part of the reason we’re seeing increased numbers, because people are actually being proactive, says Ballard.

If you see something, you’re encouraged to say something: Call your local DSS, child protective services, or law enforcement. Or you can call the Children’s Trust hotline, 1-800-552-7096.

Once abuse is reported and the case heads to the court. That’s where Court Appointed Special Advocates, or CASA, comes in.

“Judges here in our community appoint volunteers to cases where children have been abused and neglected and have been placed in foster care. Each case is very different. The majority of cases that we’ve been seeing recently have a lot of substance abuse and mental health concerns, along with domestic violence, as well,” says CASA Program Director Sammi Rader.

In every case, Children’s Trust and its partners work with the family through counseling and education to help children not only survive, but thrive.

Awareness is the crucial step.

“Each case is unique, but just having that overall awareness, is just really what’s helping increase the reporting,” says Shawna Franklin, Director of the Children’s Advocacy Center.

Children’s Trust is hosting several events this month, including the Children’s Trust CommUNITY Celebration.

It will be held from 11 AM until 3 PM Saturday, April 29 at Mount Zion AME Church. There will be a number of activities, games, prizes, and more for local families and their children. This event is free for attendees.