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Child abuse and neglect is the cause of more than 1,000 deaths each year in the U.S. and, in Virginia, every 84 minutes a child is abused or neglected.
During 2011, there were 29,619 children reported as possible victims of abuse or neglect in the state.
These reports were recorded by local Departments of Social Services for investigation or family assessments.
The state reports show that:
• 6,116 children were involved in founded investigations. Founded means a review of the facts gathered during an investigation met the preponderance of the evidence standard.
• 34,876 children were involved in reports that received a family assessment. This means that a child protective service worker completed a family services needs assessment with the family and developed a written safety plan and provided or arranged for services for the family.
• there were 86 completed investigations of child deaths due to abuse or neglect, in which 30 were determined to have died as a result of abuse and 26 of these children were age 4 or younger.
Child abuse is not usually just one physical attack or just one instance of failure to meet a child’s most basic need, social workers say.
What is child abuse or neglect?
Virginia law defines a victim of abuse or neglect as any child under the age of 18 whose parent or any other person responsible for the care of the child, does
any or all of the following:
• causes or threatens to cause a physical or mental injury except for an accident.
• fails to provide adequate food, clothing, shelter, medical care or caring support.
• abandons a child.
• fails to provide the kind of supervision necessary for a child’s age or level of development.
• commits, or allows to be committed, any illegal sexual act involving the child — including incest, rape, indecent exposure, prostitution — or allows the child to be used in any sexually explicit material.
Usually, child abuse is a pattern of behavior that takes place over a period of time. The longer child abuse continues, the more serious it becomes and the more difficult it is to stop.
To prevent this to happening to children, report suspected abuse or neglect of a child to your local Department of Social Services, or call the Virginia State Child Abuse/Neglect Hotline at 800-552-7096. All reports are confidential and reporters are not identified to the family.
Local Social Services Departments:
Galax — 236-8111
Grayson — 236-9541
Carroll — 730-3130