Child Abuse Prevention Month Issues Discussed in Highland County – Part 1


“If you think about it, in the time that it takes you to watch a movie, one child will suffer abuse or neglect, two children will drop out of school, and three children will become homeless.”  Those are some uncomfortable statistics from Sarah Rexrode, Director of the Highland County Department of Social Services.  In part one of a two-part story on Child Abuse Prevention Month, she explains more about the local impact of child abuse and neglect, as well as events going on to gain insight and where to seek help if needed.

She says, “April is Child Abuse Prevention Month, and to raise awareness, the department of social services has planted a pinwheel garden on the court house lawn.  There are thirty-two pinwheels, which represent children that received services through child protective services in Highland County last year.  When you break that out, that’s about 10.8% of our population of youth in the county, so that’s a pretty big number, and the pinwheel is a symbol for child abuse prevention and reflects childhood hope, health, and happiness.

“We should all be concerned about child abuse and neglect, because it is expensive.  It actually costs the taxpayers of Virginia about $2.8 million every day.  Last year in Virginia, there were 51,327 children reported as possible victims of abuse or neglect, and 33,877 of those reports were accepted by local departments of social services.  There are 120 local departments across the state.  There were 129 child fatalities in Virginia last year, with thirty-seven of those being the result of abuse or neglect, and of those thirty-seven, thirty-one were fatalities of children who were ages four years and younger, so they do represent a special, vulnerable population of children, and currently, there are 5,228 children in Foster Care in Virginia.  Here in Highland County, we account for three of those children.

“If anybody has questions or wants to learn more, or you may know someone who could benefit from child protective services, you can contact the Highland County Department of Social Services, our phone number is 540-468-2199.  We are located at 158 Courthouse Lane here in Monterey.”

In addition, there will also be a Prevention Awareness Reception on the Highland County Courthouse Lawn on Friday, April 21st from 1:00 to 2:00 pm, with opportunities to have fellowship and refreshments and listen to a performance by the Highland High School Band.  Part two of this story will focus on specific ways to address child abuse issues, including prevention methods, and how to interact with both children and adults.

Story By

Chris Swecker

is the Assistant Station Coordinator and a News Reporter for WVLS. He has roots in Highland County going back several generations, and he grew up in Monterey. Since graduating from James Madison University with a bachelor’s degree in Media Arts and Design, he has pursued his career at a news station and advertising agency in Virginia, on Microsoft’s campus in the state of Washington, and in both states as sole owner and employee of a video production company. He enjoys exploring life with his wife, Jessa Fowler, traveling, hiking, hunting, gardening, and trying new foods, all while discovering more about what it means to be a follower of Jesus Christ. He feels blessed to be a small part of this talented AMR team to help give back to the community that has provided him with so much.

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