Less than 3 percent of mothers ages 15 to 17 were married in 2001, Christoffel said.
He said many cases of neglect involve single mothers and alcohol - also a major factor in domestic violence. Forty-two percent of batterers and 25 percent of victims abused alcohol in 2002, according to the Washington County Family Violence Council.
Drinking "certainly impedes parents' ability to be effective," Springer said.
Service providers in the Tri-State area planned a number of Child Abuse Prevention Month events to raise community awareness about child abuse and neglect.
Earlier this month, the Washington County Family Violence Council held a children's memorial flag-raising ceremony, and lighted blue lights to remember the thousands of local children who have received help for abuse, neglect and other issues.
Franklin County Children and Youth Services and the county's Children's Aid Society recently hosted a "Cherish the Child" program for about 175 service providers from throughout south-central Pennsylvania, Pheil said.
A children's memorial flag ceremony will be held at Courthouse Square in Martinsburg at the end of April, Boylan said.
Raising awareness is only the first step to stopping child abuse and neglect. It will take a community working together to truly keep our children safe, Christoffel said.
"You need to have everyone involved. The parents have to get involved. The business and church communities have to get involved," he said. "You can't say it's a school problem or a Washington County Health Department problem. It's everyone's problem."
Added Cline, "We're all part of the solution."
The following physical signs may indicate child abuse and neglect, according to the Washington County Department of Social Services:
- Bruises on infants and children's faces, in unusual patterns, clustered in one area of the body and in various stages of healing.
- Two black eyes with no injury to the nose.
- Burns caused by hot liquid, cigarettes and irons.
- Dirty and unkempt appearance.
- Clothing inadequate for the weather.
- Medical problems left untreated.
- Inadequately supervised.
- Repeated symptoms of medical problems with genitals or digestive system.
- Venereal disease.
The following child behaviors might also point to abuse or neglect:
- Overly compliant, shy or aggressive.
- Avoids parents and physical contact with others.
- Cries often.
- Doesn't trust people.
- Gets frustrated quickly.
- Always tired.
- Developmentally slow.
- Poor peer relationships.
- Few social skills.
- Repeatedly runs away from home.
Parental behavior that might point to a problem includes:
- Unrealistic expectations for the child's physical or emotional development.
- Low sense of self-esteem.
- Anger when asked about child's care.
- Impulsive decision-making.
- Inconsistent disciplinary practices.
- Extremely overprotective.
- Overly interested in child's social and sexual life.
- Sees child as highly sexualized.
- Threatens child with death or injury.
- Threatens to hurt pets.
- Routinely humiliates child.
To report suspected child abuse and neglect, call:
- In Washington County, 240-420-2222.
- In Franklin and Fulton counties in Pennsylvania, 1-800-932-0313.
- In Berkeley, Jefferson and Morgan counties in West Virginia, 1-800-352-6513.