Child Abuse Prevention Month spreads awareness, builds hope

Published 1:11 pm Thursday, April 11, 2024

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April is Child Abuse Prevention Month and the Dare County Department of Health & Human Services and Children & Youth Partnership for Dare County are joining with the North Carolina Department and Health and Human Services and other partners across the state to focus on preventing child maltreatment as well as spreading awareness about the importance of building hope for children and families.

This year’s theme across North Carolina is “Building Hope for the Future, Together,” recognizing the tremendous potential that all children have and society’s obligation to nurture that potential.

Children who live in families with access to economic and concrete support are less likely to experience abuse and neglect. But raising healthy children isn’t solely the responsibility of parents and caregivers. Community support and partnerships are essential components to supporting and strengthening families as well as addressing the underlying causes of health and social inequities in communities.

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“When we work in partnership to address the root causes of child abuse and neglect by investing in programs that provide parenting support and education, economic support for families and protective factors in every community, we can remove the heaviest loads weighing families down,” said Children and Youth Partnership family support services coordinator Molly McGinnis. “In doing so, we ultimately build a stronger future for all of us.”

According to Prevent Child Abuse North Carolina, protective factors proven to prevent child abuse and neglect include parental resilience; social and emotional competence of children; parenting knowledge of child development and parenting skills; concrete support for parents; and social connections.

McGinnis encouraged parents to register for one of the free parenting programs offered through partnership by calling 252-441-0614, ext. 4 or emailing McGinnis at

In addition, Dare County’s Family Services Unit provides a variety of services to support families, including energy, child care, transportation and emergency assistance. The Family Support Services program is available to families with at least one child under 18 years of age and focuses on increasing family stability, strengthening family relationships and identifying support systems.

To make a referral for yourself or someone else, contact the county’s Social Services Division at 252-475-5500 and ask to speak with a member of the Family Services team.

What to do if you suspect child abuse in the community?

Those who suspect child abuse, neglect or dependency can call Social Services at 252-475-5500 Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. and ask to speak to a child protective services social worker. Outside of those hours, contact Dare Central at 252-473-3444 and ask to speak with the on-call social worker.

“We have someone available to take calls 24/7,” said Leigh Brinkley, the county’s family services supervisor. “Your report can be completely anonymous if you are not comfortable sharing your information. However, even if you give your contact information, the social worker cannot share who made the report with the families.”

For more information on Child Abuse Prevention Month and how members of the community can take part in prevention, visit