The Public Is Integral to the Prevention of Child Abuse

Once again, Stafford deployed the blue pinwheels at the front of the George L. Gordon, Jr., Government Center to raise awareness of Child Abuse Prevention. This year's theme is “Building A Hopeful Future, Together: Prevention in Partnership.” The partnership includes mandated reporters, like teachers, health care workers, etc., and family, friends, neighbors, and even random public members. Together, we can make a difference in the lives of children.

“Children count on all adults to protect them, especially those who interact with them regularly,” said Director of Stafford County Social Services Michael Muse. “I want to reassure the public, a child abuse report is not an accusation. It is a request for our professionals to help a family and child.”

Stafford received 1,533 reports of child abuse in 2023. Of those, there were 556 valid reports of child abuse/neglect. Virginia investigated 33,679 reports of abuse in 2023. Twenty-four children died in Virginia in 2023 as a result of abuse or neglect. Your report could save a life and our children are depending on it.

Stafford Dept of Social Services asks that residents call regarding concerns about a child’s safety or well-being.  It is better to report a concern and allow Stafford DSS to take appropriate action than not to report and a child be harmed.  Stafford Child Protective Services has someone to respond to emergencies 24 hours a day.  They are trained to ask the appropriate questions to determine what action is needed. The names of people who report are kept confidential and you can remain anonymous when making a report.

One of the most effective ways to prevent child abuse is to take steps and provide resources to strengthen families. The root of child abuse is often a lack of role models, limited education and unreliable support systems. Parents parent the way they were parented. Stafford’s Social Services works to help both the child and the parents. Studies have shown that children are better off with their birth families. Giving parents time to gain skills they may not already have and expectations for meeting measured improvement can greatly improve a parent’s odds of success and to a family’s reunification.

For more information on resources helping to prevent child abuse, visit the Stafford Social Services page on Stafford’s website at www.staffordcountyva.gov/government/departments_p-z/social_services. Stafford offers parenting classes and information on other resources. If you have reason to suspect child abuse or neglect, contact the Stafford County Department of Social Services by calling 540-658-4196 Monday through Friday between 8:00 a.m.–4:30 p.m. After 4:30 p.m. or on weekends and holidays, call the statewide Child Abuse and Neglect Hotline toll-free at 800-552-7096.