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Preventing Effects of Child Abuse At Home and in the Hallways

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The month of April is dedicated to preventing child abuse across the entire country, and the Charlottesville community is no exception. You can take part in training sessions aimed at discussing the issue, and spreading the word on prevention.

Studies show abuse is not only about the scars, but the scores students earn on their report cards. There are organizations in and around the city trying to open the conversation and do something about child abuse, and those groups are using this month to highlight the effects of that abuse both at home and in the hallways.

Safe Schools, Healthy Students works with kids, teachers, and staff in area classrooms to figure out what might be holding any child back from achieving his or her full potential. Along with bullying studies, the organization has looked at what creates a secure environment for students.

Survey results show if there's an abusive adult in the picture, or if there is simply no parent or guardian who nurtures their child, chances of feeling safe in school are slim.

June Jenkins with Safe Schools, Healthy Students said, "We know that those kids who have had at least one caring adult in their life are going to be able to develop more self-confidence, and therefore, all of that confidence, commitment, expectations, all of those can relate very strongly to their academic performance."

Safe Schools, Healthy Students is also taking advantage of abuse talks to have a more in-depth conversation about bullying. The group has found that bullying for young women is more subtle than the physical symptoms often experienced when boys bully each other.

Jenkins says she hopes to bring more attention to the emotional and social side of bullying later this month. That session is focused on girls and will provide resources for teachers, parents, and counselors.

Safe Schools, Healthy Students is teaming up with eight other organizations - including Foothills Child Advocacy Center, the Sexual Assault Resource Agency (SARA), and Child, Youth, And Family Services (CYFS). They are putting on a series of events, all focused on child abuse prevention.

"If children are not feeling safe within their home and within their community environment, and again," Jenkins explained, "We're always looking at how they can produce and how they can achieve in school. So anything we can do to make children and students feel like they're being cared for and being protected, then we certainly want to participate with that."

Click here for a more complete schedule of Child Abuse Prevention Month events.