TOLEDO, Ohio — April is Child Abuse Prevention Month. It's a heartbreaking reality that every day, Lucas County kids fall victim to abuse and neglect.
Nicole Williams is the manager of the assessment and intake department of Lucas County Children Services.
She says 10,000 calls came in within the past year reporting suspected abuse and neglect. "We investigated close to 5,000. In that number we probably touched the lives of close to 13,000 children," says Williams.
Not all of those 13,000 children were found to be victims, but about 2,000 were and needed to be removed from their homes and placed in the care of children services.
"It is our responsibility to ensure the safety and wellness of all children in this community," says Williams, adding that it's a team effort. Children Services works with schools, law enforcement, other social services and you at home.
Williams says, "I think you utilize the common sense of if you see something severe or something that just does not feel right. Call us and let us determine whether that is something we should go out and assess."
Williams says the pandemic has been hard on everyone and as calls to report abuse trended down in March and April of last year, calls started increasing once things started reopening.
Because of the pandemic, there wasn't a memorial service remembering the children who lost their lives to abuse and neglect last year. This year, 20 children who've died over the past two years will be remembered. That service will be held virtually at 11 a.m. on April 29.
WTOL 11 is joining Lucas County Children Services in asking you to wear blue on Wednesday, April 14 to honor these young victims.
You can post a picture to social media using the #OhioWearsBlue to show your support for those who have been affected by, or tragically lost their lives, to child abuse.