HOPEWELL, Va. -- Thousands of children across the state of Virginia are victims of child abuse.
Child abuse is a problem statewide. It’s evident in the Children Protective Services 2020-2021 annual report that runs from July to July. Richmond reports that 103 children were abused.
In Henrico, there were 256 cases, Chesterfield saw 58 and Hopewell had 53. The main type of abuse found in these cities is physical abuse.
The city of Hopewell is kicking off the month of April which is dedicated nationally to awareness around the issue. The city lined pinwheels all over town and lit up several key areas blue.
“Hopewell is considered the neediest most at-risk city in the state. So for us, it’s imperative we raise awareness and let people know we are here,” said Diane Varner, the Executive Director of Hopewell Prince George Healthy Families.
Varner works with the organization to help prevent abuse by providing resources to support struggling families.
“Children shouldn’t have to worry about food or someone hurting them, or where they are sleeping, “ she said.
Varner brought the community and multiple agencies together on Friday night, holding a vigil of awareness to highlight the issue of child abuse. They hope that when the community sees the pinwheels and blue lights, they remember help is only a phone call away.
“We pray that they get with our agency or someone that can help them be resilient,” said Shantae Wheeler the Program Director.
If you suspect that a child is being abused call local police or the child protective agency. You can also contact the Child Help National Child Abuse Hotline at 1-800-422-4453.