April is Prevent Child Abuse Month: Reports going Up

By Christine Souders | csouders@nexstar.tv

Published 04/01 2014 08:05PM

Updated 04/01 2014 08:10PM

VERMONT- All across the nation, April is Prevent Child Abuse Month.

In Vermont, lawmakers and organizations are calling attention to it.

The number of reported cases of child abuse is going up.

This year, the Department for Children and Families expect more than 17,000 phone calls in the state of reported cases of child abuse or neglect.

A significant increase over the last couple years.

Dezirae Sheldon, a then two year old child, is just one of the many faces of child abuse.

Tuesday, blue pinwheels grazed the front lawn of the statehouse in Montpelier to reflect on children like Dezirae.

Senator Dick Sears said,  "It's great to have this backing of various groups, I don't know very many vermonters who wouldn't want us to do everything we can to protect children.Right now, a Senate Review Panel in Montpelier is looking at how Vermont responds to physical abuse.

"Few years back we looked at child sexual abuse and made tremendous improvements in Vermont's response, and hopefully the same will happen in Vermont's response to physical child abuse."

But movement on the state level can only go so far.

"More people are aware, and that's the key. We need to all be vigilant, and constantly thinking are kids okay," said Dave Yacovone, the Commissioner of the Department for Children and Families said yes, there are mandated reporters, people like teachers and police required by the state to report abuse or neglect, but he adds you don't have to carry a badge or title to report your suspicions.

"Out of those 17,000 calls, approximately 5,000 will be investigated. Many of them won't rise to the level. But when in doubt, don't try to analyze it yourself. Call it in and report it, and let a trained staff ask the questions and find out."

Because not every child has a voice.

"Kids matter, and making sure kids are safe matter," said Yacovone.

If you suspect a child is being abused or neglected, all reports remain anonymous,

You can call the child abuse hotline 1-800-649-5285 or 211.

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