Help make Washington County safer for children
To the editor:
April is nationally recognized as the Month of the Young Child and as Child Abuse and Neglect Awareness Month. This month gives us an opportunity to focus our attention on early childhood issues and highlights the needs of young children, particularly regarding child safety.
Last year, the Washington County Department of Social Services investigated 1,705 reports of abuse or neglect involving more than 4,000 local children — 1,159 of these cases involved child neglect, an increase of 8 percent over Fiscal Year 2010. And 369 of these cases involved physical abuse, a reduction of 11 percent from the previous year. We investigated 177 reports of sexual abuse, an 11 percent increase. Washington County traditionally ranks among the top five jurisdictions in the state for “indicated” child abuse or neglect. An indicated child abuse case is one in which investigators discovered clear evidence of maltreatment. Primary causes of child abuse and neglect are substance abuse, domestic violence and poor parenting skills.
Child abuse prevention is a community responsibility. State law requires anyone who suspects that a child is the victim of abuse or neglect to report this information to law enforcement or the Department of Social Services. Our anonymous child welfare intake phone number, 240-420-2222, is available 24 hours a day, seven days per week.
Please join the DSS, local law enforcement, educators and human service professionals as we strive to ensure the safety of all Washington County children.
David A. Engle
Director, Washington County Department of Social Services