April is Child Abuse Prevention Month, tips to protect your child

Published: Apr. 11, 2022 at 6:17 PM EDT
Email This Link
Share on Pinterest
Share on LinkedIn

GREENVILLE, S.C. (FOX Carolina) - April is Child Abuse Prevention Month.

Governor McMaster declared it for the entire state last week.

It’s a time to recognize the importance of families and communities working together to strengthen families to prevent child abuse and neglect.

We checked with the Department of Social Services from 2019 to 2021. In the Upstate, maltreatments of excessive corporal punishment and substantial risk of physical or mental injury increased.

And, nationally, cybercrimes against children have increased during from 2019 to 2020.

Greenville County Sheriff’s Office Sgt. Michael Rainey says there are measures you can take to protect kids.

“If your child has an app on their phone, you need to be familiar with the app, how the app works,” said Rainey, “Be friends with them on those apps, so that you can interact and see what’s going on.”

Rainey works with a K-9 to help identify cybercrimes and find technology predators may be hiding. The K-9 can even find devices under water.

“Those devices can be as big as a desktop computer or an iPad, all the way down to a thumb drive or a microSD card,” said Rainey.

Kids are using computers more often during the pandemic; which statistics say could be contributing to why online crimes against children are rising.

Shauna Galloway-Williams is the CEO of the Julie Valentine Center, in Greenville. They served 2,400 people in 2021. Of those, over 800 were children. Most child cases went down, but she attributes that to more children not being in school. And many reports come from schools.

“I think one of the concerning things we’ve seen an increase in is crimes committed against children through social media, through the internet,” Williams said.

Williams says it’s important to monitor your little one’s phones, consoles, computers, and other devices.

“Mine craft, any of the games that children have access to, most of them have chat features as well,” Williams continues, “Those are tools offenders will use to seek out children.”

Another way to protect your child is to make sure their daycares and Summer programs have child protection policies, especially if it’s overnight. Ask them: how do they respond to an incident of abuse?

“That would be a real, red flag if they are unwilling to share that with you, or if they don’t have anything in place,” said Williams.

And, most importantly, Williams says when your kid tells you something, believe them. And report it immediately.

“Let them know it’s OK to come to you and let you know what’s going on; that you’re there for reassurance and guidance,” Rainey said.

The Centers for Disease Control says one in seven children have experienced abuse or neglect.

Williams suggests to pay attention to sudden changes in mood or behavior, have serious conversations about sexuality and internet safety, and if you see something, say something.

If you have questions or need resources you can call the Julie Valentine Center: 864-467-3633. It’s a 24-hour hotline.