April is Child Abuse Awareness and Protection Month, here’s how to look out for the kids in your neighborhood
RAPID CITY, S.D. — April is National Child Abuse Prevention Month.
With children now at home more, South Dakota Department of Social Services is ready if more cases of child abuse and neglect occur during the covid-19 pandemic.
“What we’re seeing is the numbers look very comparable at this time compared to a year ago at the same time, ” said Laurie Gill, State Secretary of Social Services. “But what we are very much aware of is that the dynamics of families have changed right now, the dynamics in schools have changed, the environment for children has changed. So we are standing by, alert, and we are very concerned.”
Schools are closed and kids’ interactions outside the home are fewer.
As part of National Child Abuse Prevention Month D.S.S. reminds the public to look for signs of abuse or neglect.
“If you have seen a child that has changed in behavior, ranging from being over aggressive to being overly passive, changes like that and delays in physical, mental and emotional development,” Sec. Gill said. “Those things all together. There isn’t just one specific thing to look for. Some are more obvious than others.”
D.S.S. is also in contact with the Department of Education and works with schools to ensure the safety of students in or out of school.
“We have good communication going in place and will continue to do so to ensure those kids are safe,” Sec. Gill said.
In the case of child runaways that can also be a potential issue. Stress at home or from anyone at home or outside stress can be some of the reasons minors runaway.
Social Services also offers ways to combat stress and keep households safe for everyone.
“We have to ask ourselves, whatever my stressor is can I do anything to change it? Can I do anything about it? And ask that question. If the answer is no, we really need to focus on something else. We need to have faith that we know this is going to end. We know there are people out there that care and that there are resources available,” Secretary Laurie Gill said.
For help in the Rapid City area call the following numbers, or visit Department of Social Services’ website:
For Child Protection Services:
- Child Protection Services
- Intake number: 1.877.244.0864
- Fax: 605.394.6771
- Child Support Services
- Fax: 605.394.2621