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Fluvanna Social Services Raising Child Abuse Awareness - NBC29 WVIR Charlottesville, VA News, Sports and Weather

Fluvanna Social Services Raising Child Abuse Awareness

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Fluvanna County is reporting a high number of child abuse cases in the last nine months. To deal with this growing problem, Fluvanna County social workers are encouraging people to report warning signs, and give children who have been abused a chance to heal.

"It's really a matter of building trust," said Felicia Brooks, an art therapist.

Brooks helps children overcome the unthinkable - child abuse and neglect.

The Fluvanna County Department of Social Services says this is a growing problem in the county, because of high levels of emotional, marital and financial stress.

"Stress on the families often results in parents not being able to cope proficiently with family situations," said Susan Muir, director of social services in Fluvanna County.  

From May 2012 to March 2013, the Fluvanna County Department of Social Services received 173 reports of child abuse. 119 were valid and that's what the county would normally see in a year.

Social workers say reporting is key.

"We ask anybody who has any feeling that might not be quite right to call us and let us know because it is on our shoulders to decide whether it meets the validity requirements or not," said Muir.

Reporting the problem is the first step to helping a child heal.

Brooks starts her patients' healing process with a game.

"It may take some time for them to trust me, to build a rapport with them before we're able to dive into some of the issues that they may have," said Brooks.   

This is how she gets to know the child she's working with, and how she figures out a direction for therapy.

"It may be simply just freestyle - just draw an image of whatever comes to mind for you or how about draw what a safe place might look like for you," said Brooks.

Then it's up to the child to pave the way to recovery.

"Children who have been abused, of course, are very cautious of, you know, somebody new in their life and it's really about just having them take the lead," said Brooks.

Fluvanna County Department of Social Services is currently doing its part to raise awareness about child abuse.  It is hosting a "celebrating children's fair" on April 27 from 10 a.m. to 12 p.m. at Carysbrook Elementary School.

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