NORFOLK, Va. (WAVY) – April is National Child Abuse Prevention Month.
On Tuesday, April 4, the City of Norfolk hosted a walk for awareness, ceremony and pinwheel planting.
The community walk started at 741 Monticello Ave and continued to Norfolk City Hall, 810 Union Street. Norfolk’s Family Services, law enforcement and other partner organizations walked together to show their togetherness for families and children. They chanted, “No excuse for child abuse” as they walked and gathered at City Hall.
Mayor Kenneth Cooper Alexander spoke at City Hall, tasking residents with improving the lives of children and families in Norfolk.
Following the ceremony, the City and community planted 100 blue and silver “Pinwheels for Prevention.” According to the city, the pinwheels “will serve as a reminder of Norfolk’s commitment to keep children safe from abuse and neglect.” They will remain planted through the end of April.
“Planting the pinwheel means the community is standing in solidarity,” said Family Services worker Genesis Green. “We all have the same belief system and we all want to make the same change. And so, I think planting the pinwheel, it means we all stand together.”
The Family Services team offers a multitude of resources for the community. Family Services Supervisor Angela Miller-Carney wants families to know they will offer extra help and hope to those who need it. Some of the help available includes mental health resources, family supportive services and education promoting safe sleep.
According to the CDC, 1 in 7 children experience abuse or neglect. In some cases, numbers could be higher due to underreporting.
Leading up to the event, WAVY Digital Desk Host Sarah Goode spoke with Daralene Smith from the city of Norfolk about child abuse prevention awareness for a Community Chat. Smith serves as the associate director for individual and family services at the Norfolk Department of Human Services. Watch the Community Chat in the video player below.
Smith said parenting can be very tough and encourages parents to freely reach out for help. She wants families to know they are not alone. Norfolk provides resources to teach parents how to nurture children, or enhance their parenting skills.
Smith said they will help parents understand child development and what a healthy parent-child relationship looks like. The department also works with parents to learn what children need throughout their lifespan to be able to grow and thrive.
According to Smith, the community is also an essential part to keeping kids safe. It’s not just community organizations, but everyone that comes in contact with children that needs to look out for others. That can be teachers, medical professionals, childcare providers and others.
Smith encourages people to report and not be timid. It will ultimately help the department assess, and prevent future incidents of abuse and neglect.
The City of Norfolk provided this information below for the community.
- Norfolk Family Support Services: https://www.norfolk.gov/1939/Prevention-Services or call (757) 664-6370.
- Learn to recognize the signs of child abuse and neglect. For more information, visit Families Forward.
- To report suspected child abuse, call the Norfolk Child Abuse Hotline at 757-664-6022 or 800-552-7096.
- For more information about Human Services, click here.
The Portsmouth Department of Social Services is also recognizing National Child Abuse Prevention and Awareness Month. The city is hosting a fun walk on April 15 at 10:30 a.m.
The ceremony and walk will begin at the Portsmouth Department of Social Services building and will end at the Portsmouth Seawall.
Organizers are asking participants to wear blue.