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CT Group: Child-Abuse Awareness Must Continue Beyond April


Friday, April 30, 2021   

BRIDGEPORT, Conn. - Today marks the last day of National Child Abuse Awareness Month, but advocates for children in Connecticut say it's important that people continue to remain vigilant to prevent abuse.

The Center for Family Justice - or CFJ - says people usually come forward weeks, months or even years after abuse, so it's still too early to know the full extent of the child neglect and abuse that may have spiked during the pandemic.

But Deb Greenwood, president and CEO of the Bridgeport-based center, said there are ways to detect possible child abuse - and noted one tip-off that a child or teen might be in trouble.

"If there's been a significant change in personality and how someone's acting, how they're feeling," said Greenwood. "Whether you had a normal happy child that likes to be involved - and all of a sudden, they've lost a lot of interest - there might be concern."

According to CFJ, calls to Connecticut domestic-violence hotlines spiked in the last year - as much as 30%.

Greenwood noted CFJ has resources to learn more about prevention. The group also works with other Connecticut nonprofits, mental-health providers and educators.

Greenwood said the stress of home quarantines has most definitely been a factor.

"So, that really did take many relationships in a whole different level," said Greenwood. "On top of it, you know, the escape for children having to go to school is not there any longer."

She added that a larger domestic-violence safe house is newly open in the greater Bridgeport region to help more victims of sexual abuse.

CFJ also operates Camp HOPE America-Bridgeport, which helps children who have experienced abuse. The program recently won a $1.5 million grant, which Greenwood said will be used to expand both the summer camp and mentoring program.

"And we know that scientifically, when a child or even an adult has gone through trauma, it really affects the brain," said Greenwood. "So, our job is to help them navigate their trauma, to give them the hope and the skills so that they can bring that back into their life spectrum."

The National Domestic Violence Hotline is open 24-7 and can guide people to identify abuse and local resources, plan for safety, and more. The phone number is 800-799-SAFE (7233).

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