VINCENNES, Ind. (WTWO/WAWV)– Organizations around Knox County teamed up on Saturday to raise awareness for National Child Abuse Prevention month.

The Knox County Department of Child Services hosted their annual child abuse prevention event– something Jacquelyn Cunningham, the keynote speaker for the event, believes is important to raise awareness on an issue that hits close to home.

“Here in Knox County, we have 66 cases of maltreatment, and that could be neglect or abuse, just between January, February and March of 2023,” Cunningham, the program coordinator for the Isaiah 117 House, said. “Overall as a state of Indiana, I was looking at statistics back in 2020, and it was 111,000.”

Many of the organizations on hand were able to tell families about their resources and how they work together with other groups in the community, according to Vanessa Luchtefeld, the family cases manager for the county DCS.

“The department always tries to gather all the resources in the community that some people don’t know or understand what services they provide. We try to come together and collaborate, get them all out here and have enough information to give out to everybody,” she said. 

Cunningham said she hoped those who came through could get a better grasp for some of the signs of child abuse– and that they knew the steps to take when they see it.

“I would say our important steps are to listen to kids,” she said. “Watch their behaviors and learn why they are doing it. If they are falling asleep in class, understand why they are falling asleep. Understand their behaviors, because sometimes they’re not just being deviant and disruptive kids, they are just tired because they haven’t slept the night before because there’s been abuse or there’s been neglect.”

While both acknowledged child abuse can be a hard topic to discuss, they believe it’s important to raise awareness to help those in the community who need it.

“It is a sad topic, but I am so thankful for today’s event to help address those,” Cunningham said.  “Pay attention to our kids, and all the kids they are around, and report it if all else fails. Report if there is an issue to DCS. Call the hotline because it could possibly save a child’s life.”