From the listings desk: It's April 1, a day usually set aside specifically for pranks, but it also marks the beginning of National Child Abuse Awareness and Prevention Month, definitely no laughing matter.
According to CASA of the Pikes Peak Region, an organization that represents the best interests of children in the court system who are victims of abuse or domestic conflict, reported cases of child abuse and neglect are on the rise in El Paso County.
The child abuse hotline at the El Paso County Department of Human Services rang over 11,000 times in 2009. Of hotline reports, the county opened 520 abuse and neglect cases involving nearly 1,000 children, a 17% increase over 2008.
According to CASA you can help children by simply looking out for signs of abuse and then reporting them. But you can also help prevent abuse by supporting a family in crisis, "Something as simple as offering to babysit your neighbor's children may help — anything that will give a stressed parent a break."
A full list of warning signs indicative of sexual, physical or emotional abuse or neglect, is available on CASA's Web site, casappr.org. A calendar of abuse awareness events and fundraisers is available here.
To report abuse, call the 24-hour hotline in El Paso County at 444-5700 or Teller County at 686-5550.
For more on National Child Abuse Awareness Month, visit childwelfare.gov/preventing/preventionmonth.