In observance of Child Abuse Prevention Month, the Child Advocacy Center of Niagara (CAC), a service of Niagara Falls Memorial Medical Center (NFMMC), will hold its sixth annual “Walk to End Child Abuse” on April 26 at the Hyde Park Ice Pavilion. The free community event, which starts at 4:30 p.m., aims to raise awareness of the importance of child safety, child abuse prevention, and reducing trauma for the children in our community.
The event will feature real-life superheroes, Bikers Against Child Abuse, NFFD touch-a-truck, community resources and kid crafts. In addition, Niagara Falls will be lit blue at approximately 10 p.m. as a symbol of support for Child Abuse Prevention Month.
Child Advocacy Center of Niagara Executive Director Shelley Hitzel said, "Reports of child abuse and maltreatment continue to increase locally, and cases of sudden unexplained child deaths increased by 180% last year. Community awareness and support are crucial in preventing abuse, increasing resiliency and reducing trauma for the children in our county.”
Nationally, 1 in 10 children will be sexually abused by their 18th birthday, and 1 in 7 children experienced some form of reportable abuse or maltreatment in 2022. Last year, the Niagara Department of Social Services investigated over 3,500 child abuse and maltreatment reports. The CAC provided services to over 600 children in this community, offering forensic interviews, therapeutic child abuse medical evaluations, evidence-based trauma-specific counseling, and victim advocacy services completely free of charge.
A press release stated, “Our community can help support child safety by hosting a free CAC-sponsored training, engaging in community events and social medical awareness, contacting local elected officials or donating to the CAC directly. The CAC depends on the community's support to provide children with a safe, comfortable, and child-friendly space to provide crucial services that help children heal, reduce retraumatization, and prevent future abuse.”
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.”
Those interested in helping support the CAC or attending the “Walk to End Child Abuse” can contact the CAC at 716-285-0045.
About The Child Advocacy Center of Niagara
The Child Advocacy Center of Niagara 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, and provide support and treatments services to children and their caregivers. In addition to working with child victims, the CAC also provides support services, advocacy, crisis intervention, safety planning, and referrals to individuals experiencing domestic violence and sex trafficking.