County Recognizes April as Child Abuse Prevention Month

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Provided by Prince William County Communications Office 

Dozens of people gathered at the front of the Sean T. Connaughton Plaza to “plant” a pinwheel garden on Tuesday afternoon for Child Abuse Prevention Month.

Pinwheels represent hope for a happy and healthy childhood free from abuse and neglect. This symbol was adopted in 2008 by Prevent Child Abuse America, whose mission is to prevent child abuse and neglect of all children in the United States.

Prince William County Chair at Large Deshundra Jefferson spoke of the need to raise awareness of child abuse and neglect in the county and the need for prevention.

“Sadly, the reality is that many children across our nation and within our own community suffer from abuse and neglect. As leaders, it is our duty to stand up and take action to protect our children, who are the future of our community,” Jefferson said. “By acknowledging April as Child Abuse Prevention Month, we have a critical opportunity to raise awareness about this issue, educate our community, and provide resources and support for families in need. Let’s pledge to continue to support one another in creating a safer, more nurturing community for all. Together, we can make a difference.”

Department of Social Services Advisory Board Chair Laurie Wilson addressed the crowd of elected officials, residents and county staff and said that this year’s Child Abuse Prevention Month theme is “Doing things differently: Moving from the challenge to the change.”

“This theme encourages communities to be intentional about exploring, engaging and investing in new ideas and new initiatives to transform the way that we partner with families to provide support and services,” Wilson said. “Every child in the United States deserves to grow up feeling safe, supported and loved. This month, we’re reminded of the role that all of us play in preventing a crisis for a child or for a family. And of all the roles that we play in ensuring that all children have the opportunity to have positive life experiences, and all families have the resources that they need to provide for their children.”

Department of Social Services Deputy Director Phyllis Jennings-Holt said planting the pinwheel garden accents the support all children should have.

“This pinwheel celebration really is a time to reflect and look at how children should have the ability to be safe and secure in their homes, and how they should be able to have a childhood without trauma,” Jennings-Holt said.

Department of Social Services Assistant Director of Advocacy, Prevention and Protection Division Lena Purifoy said the county leadership and staff always rise to the challenge.

“I often tell people that I live and work in one of the best counties,” Purifoy said. “The reason for saying that is because we show up and we show out. We are here. We are mighty. With everyone that contributes to helping keep children safe and working together to prevent child abuse and neglect, hopefully, we will work until we work ourselves out of a job.”

Department of Social Services Program Manager for Prevention, Theresa Wilson, recognized everyone who attended and encouraged them to make a difference in the fight against child abuse and neglect.

“We can’t do this alone,” Wilson said. “Your role is just as important as the department’s role in preventing child abuse and neglect. We’ve heard the phrase it takes a village. It takes a village to prevent child abuse and neglect, as well. It’s very encouraging to see our community partners here with us today.

“You might be thinking, what can I do to prevent child abuse and neglect? I would encourage you to engage with children, listen to children. You may be the person, the one person that a child trusts and will share. If they’re being abused or neglected, you may be the one person that sees a red flag. You might be the person that they disclose abuse to. You may be the only person that can help a child in need. We always say, if you see something, say something. If you are aware of abuse neglect, please report your suspicion to the Department of Social Services.”

Those who suspect child abuse can call the Prince William County Child Protective Services/Adult Protective Services Hotline at 703-792-4200, Monday through Friday, 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. On evenings, weekends and holidays, those who suspect child abuse can call the State Child Protective Services Hotline at 1-800-552-7096.

The Department of Social Services notes that thriving families depend on strong support systems; and that support can come from family, friends, neighbors and others in the community. For free referral 24 hours a day, seven days a week, dial 2-1-1, which offers information on a wide variety of services in the community and statewide. In addition, people who know of a child who needs help can also contact 1-800-CHILDREN (800-244-5373), a resource parents and caregivers can use for guidance or questions concerning a child they love.

Learn the signs of abuse and neglect to protect children. Visit Signs of Child Abuse & Neglect | familiesforwardva for more information.


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