One local agency is asking local citizens to wear blue on Mondays in coordination with the National Exchange Club’s “Blue Monday” campaign to raise awareness about child abuse since April is Child Abuse Prevention month.
Surry SCAN (Stop Child Abuse Now) is trying to raise awareness of child abuse and educating the community not only how to reduce the occurrence but how to recognize it.
“Our community has been hard hit with unemployment, reduction in funding to agencies and schools that protect and educate children. Transportation is also an issue for families and results in isolation. Families need assistance from already strapped programs. Many families are struggling, which is a factor in the increase of child abuse cases,” said Melissa Hiatt, director of Surry SCAN.
Surry SCAN gave the Department of Social Services Child Protective unit and Foster Care unit a birthday party on April 10. The party was representative of the departments protecting the community’s children and giving many another year of life.
Hiatt said a child may be being abused if there are sudden behavioral changes. If the child has a lot of accidents, lacks supervision, or, if the child is compliant, passive or withdrawn most of time or if child comes to school (or activity) early and stays late or doesn’t want to go home.
She said child abuse may be happening if the parent is always blaming the child, ask teachers or coaches to use hard discipline, is overly demanding of the child, or is unrealistic of expectations and looks to school or child daycare to be responsible for the child.
“If abuse is expected it is to be reported. In order to file a report a caller must know the address of the family, and explain the incident they have witnessed,” said Hiatt. “In order to stop abuse, education has to occur. There are multiple agencies in the community to provide counseling, in-home visitation, and classes on parenting, anger managements, problem solving and family communication.”
Hiatt said the public can help prevent child abuse by helping to increase awareness, by learning the signs and reporting them and by volunteering to mentor a child or parent.
If a citizen is interested in volunteering to assist families and children, contact Melissa Hiatt at Surry SCAN at firstname.lastname@example.org or call the 211 system supported by the United Fund of Surry County.
Reports of child abuse can be made anonymously to the Department of Social Services at 401-8800.