How Hampton Roads can help stop child abuse


PORTSMOUTH, Va (WAVY) — Child abuse during the pandemic has been called a pandemic of its own, but we can put an end to most of it, some experts say.

“If we’re going to stop abuse we’ve got to get out in front of it,” Champions for Children Director Melynda Ciccotti told

April is Child Abuse Prevention Month and Ciccotti has a call to action for Hampton Roads.

“There’s all kinds of ways we can work to prevent abuse here in Hampton roads we need three things to do this,” she said.

It starts with education, she said. Most child abuse is learned behavior. Ciccotti points to success seen with public awareness campaigns and home visiting programs for new parents that can help break the cycle.

Second, is a coordinated plan that encompasses the health department, judicial system and universities.

“If we could work with those entities, oh, we would be able to make some huge differences,” Ciccotti said.

Champions for Children has reached out to community leaders and hopes to have an outline of a plan ready to publish by January.

Third, are community partnerships. The “No Hit Zone” campaign spearheaded locally by Champions for Children is an example of how businesses and public spaces promote safe places for children and discourage adults from using physical forms of punishment.

It will take a community effort she said, but Ciccotti encourages every individual to be a champion for children by standing up to abuse and reporting suspected cases and by reading up on ways to parent positively.

Prevent Child Abuse America – Coronavirus Resources & Tips for Parents, Children & Others.

Child abuse and neglect are serious problems that can have lasting harmful effects on its victims. For more information on preventing child abuse and neglect check out resources from the CDC or call The Childhelp National Child Abuse Hotline at 1-800-422-4453 for help.

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