Washington County VA

Local agency shares signs of child abuse

WASHINGTON COUNTY, Virginia - The Child Advocacy Center of Bristol/Washington County, Virginia  has new decorations for April.

Not to brighten the office, but to serve as a reminder. Each pinwheel in the garden represents an abuse victim. "There were 221 new child victims that our teams together worked on," said Executive Director Kathi Roark.

Roark said that number is just for new cases in 2013. Information from CAC indicates the center helped 455 abuse victims last year, but that number includes cases held over from 2012 and earlier.

Roark told News 5 there is still a staggering number of cases CAC and authorities don't know about. "We know that probably half of all child abuse goes unreported," said Roark. "Children think that no one is going to believe them. The second reason is that they think they are going to be in trouble."

Knowing the signs of child abuse can help get a child out of a bad situation. "If you see something that makes you feel uncomfortable on behalf of a child, all you have to do is make a report to the proper authorities," said Roark.

Some of those signs include unexplained injuries, changes in behavior, depression and social withdrawal. "You may be the one that's making the difference in that child's life. You may be one of a lot of people who say, 'Oh, that doesn't look right,' but you may be the only one that's stepped forward and made that call," said Roark.

President Ronald Reagan issued a proclamation in 1983 declaring April National Child Abuse Prevention month.

If you suspect child abuse, call your local law enforcement.

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