Candlelight Ceremony Held for Child Abuse Victims (VIDEO)

By Rachel Martin

April 16, 2013 Updated Nov 13, 2013 at 3:42 AM EDT

FORT WAYNE, Ind. (www.incnow.tv) – Every month brings awareness to an issue at hand, and April is Child Abuse Prevention Awareness Month.

Tuesday night, SCAN, Inc. (Stop Child Abuse and Neglect) joined the Indiana Department of Child Services, Prevent Child Abuse Indiana and the Kids First Trust Fund for a candle light ceremony in memory of all the children who've been affected by abuse at Swinney Park.

There are many colors and signs that symbolize certain issues, but members of the Networks for Safe Families chose a pinwheel because it's playful and free-spirited, just like a child.

Michelle Savieo, Fort Wayne Director at the Indiana Department of Child Services says there were 170,000 cases of reported child abuse and neglect statewide last year, compared to more than 150,000 in 2011. Savieo says of those 170,000, 18 percent of those cases were proven. In Allen County alone, one to two children are affected by child abuse and neglect every day.

Savieo says child abuse is an issue where people are often afraid to get involved, but getting involved is what can save a child's life.

“We want people in our community to realize that children are abused and neglected in our own communities, next door, perhaps in your own family, and that you can help prevent that,” she said.

Savieo says prevention can be as simple as offering to help someone out.

“We need everybody who knows that a family’s in crisis to help out. It might be a step in and say hey can I watch the kids while you have a break, or do you need a ride somewhere so we can get you some food, or it might be that we need you to report child abuse and neglect so that we can step in and help. We also have prevention services in our community through the Networks for Safe Families that anybody can refer a family to, and then they can provide some of that assistance.”

Savieo says signs that a child is being abused are if a child looks dirty or appears hungry, or if whenever you see them they appear to be alone. Sometimes it's as simple as talking to the child and asking questions, she says.

To report child abuse or neglect, call the hotline at 1-800-800-5556.

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