April is National Child Abuse Prevention Month, and the best way people can help spot and prevent child abuse and neglect is to get involved.
Theresa Wilson, the Social Services Prevention Team program manager with the Prince William County Department of Social Services, said looking, listening and responding can go a long way to helping children who might be abused or neglected. “Be informed, be involved. Sometimes, people may fear getting personally involved or they may be in denial that a child they know is being abused. Making a call to Social Services or the Police Department can generate the help a child or family needs, but is unable to seek. You can make a difference in a child’s life.”
Child abuse can include physical harm, neglect, sexual abuse and emotional or mental maltreatment. The Social Services Prevention Team works with families and children to reduce and prevent child abuse and neglect, and to connect families to community resources. “Child abuse is entirely preventable, but not without your help,” Wilson said.
As part of a statewide campaign, on Wednesday, April 9, the department will plant a Pinwheel Garden at noon at the Dr. A.J. Ferlazzo Building in Woodbridge to commemorate Child Abuse Prevention Month. The blue pinwheel, which is the symbol for childhood happiness, is the new symbol for child abuse prevention. “The whole point of the pinwheel garden is to raise awareness,” according to Wilson.
Another way people can promote child abuse awareness is to wear blue on April 9.
To report suspected child abuse, call the Prince William County Protective Services’ hotline at 703-792-4200, the Virginia Department of Social Services Child Abuse and Neglect Hotline at 800-552-7096 or visit the state child abuse prevention