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A small group of students at Colleton County High School gathered together last week to release balloons in honor of child abuse awareness month, a time statewide when people work to raise awareness on child abuse and how to prevent it.
For the first time in its history, the Colleton County Department of Social Services (DSS) worked with high school students at CCHS to raise recognition about April being its child abuse awareness month. About 15 balloons were released Thursday afternoon.
“This is the group of students who helped us design our new t-shirts and our new logo, and we thought this was a great way to show unity and to raise awareness,” said LaToya Pinckney, with the county’s DSS agency.
According to information provided to this newspaper by Colleton County DSS officials, there were 355 reported cases of child abuse in Colleton County during 2016.
Statewide, there were 43,924 reported cases. Abuse was found in more than 10,000 of those reported cases statewide.
“While the reach of child abuse and neglect in our state is heartbreaking, as it violates our collective beliefs around protecting our children and keeping our communities safe, what we do in response to reduce the risks surrounding children and families is a test of our character and commitment,” said Susan Alford, state DSS director.
Local DSS officials say they are using April’s designation as a means to speak to communities, schools and parent groups on how to prevent child abuse. Specifically, locals are trying to teach parents and communities about how to better handle stressful situations before those situations can escalate.
“Children’s Trust and DSS encourage parents to find ways to bounce back from challenges by leaning on friends, asking for help when needed, understanding how their children grow and helping children handle their own feelings,” as stated by local DSS Director Audrey Brown, in information she provided. “When communities come together to support children and families, everyone benefits.”
To report child abuse or child neglect, call 911, contact your local DSS office at 843-549-1012 or go to https://dss.sc.gov/contact.
“DSS is thankful for the support of children’s services agencies, child advocates, the faith-based community, the legislature, the courts, law enforcement and others for their role in developing and strengthening the safety net for children in South Carolina,” said Alford, in a written statement.