In recognition of National Child Abuse Prevention Month, the Child Advocacy Center of Niagara, along with Niagara Falls Memorial Medical Center staff, wore blue on Tuesday to show support for the essential work needed to ensure a safe future for all children.
In addition, staff is invited to join the CAC in raising awareness throughout the month by donating items toward the center’s “Family Fun Night” gift bags, which are distributed to children visiting the center.
The fifth annual “Walk to End Child Abuse” will take place on April 28 at the Hyde Park Ice Pavilion. This free community event will start at 4:30 p.m., and features real life superheroes, Bikers Against Child Abuse, community resources and kid crafts. Later on, in recognition of Child Abuse Prevention Month, Niagara Falls will be lit blue at approximately 10 p.m.
Last year, the Niagara Department of Social Services investigated more than 3,700 reports of child abuse and maltreatment – about 10 reports every day.
“Reports of child abuse and maltreatment continue to increase locally. Community awareness and support is crucial in preventing abuse and reducing trauma for the children in our county,” said Shelley Hitzel, executive director of the Child Advocacy Center of Niagara.
Memorial stated, “Nationally, 1 in 10 children will be sexually abused by their 18th birthday. According to the Child Maltreatment Report that came out in 2019, there were 656,000 victims of child abuse and neglect in 2019.”
Hitzel said, “We ask you to join us, not just during April’s Child Abuse Prevention Month, but all year long because, together, we can truly make a difference in the lives of children.”
The Child Advocacy Center of Niagara, a service of Niagara Falls Memorial Medical Center, is a countywide resource providing a place for a multidisciplinary team of law enforcement, social services, prosecution, and medical and mental health personnel to investigate allegations of child abuse in a child-friendly environment. In addition to working with child victims, the CAC also provides support services, advocacy, crisis intervention, safety planning and referrals to victims of domestic violence.