The Erie County Courthouse is going blue for the month of April in order to raise awareness.
Where justice is served, blue lights are being shined in honor of Child Abuse Prevention Month.
April is Child Abuse Prevention Month as well as Sexual Assault Awareness Month.
On April 4, multiple organizations were in attendance as Erie County recognized the importance of preventing child abuse.
Blue lights were shining on the Erie County Courthouse representing the color of Child Abuse Prevention and Sexual Assault Awareness Month.
“It’s great to see all that groups. The Bikers Against Child Abuse, we got the Crime Victim Center, and it’s just really nice to see this kind of turnout,” said Brenton Davis, (R), Erie County Executive.
The blue lights serve as a reminder of those who are suffering.
According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, in 2020 there were approximately 618,000 victims of child abuse and neglect in the United States.
“It’s something close to the heart. So definitely excited to be involved and be here,” said Chad Zaczyk, Vice President of Riders Against Child Abuse.
Organization leaders said that with the impact of COVID and everyone staying home, it had a negative impact on those victims that really needed help.
The Crime Victim Center anticipated an increase in cases when the lockdowns ended and children returned to school.
The center even hired additional staff to help with the case load.
“There has been a huge uptick from September on. We are grateful that the schools are open. We are grateful that there were safe spaces that the kids were able to talk,” said Paul Lukach, Executive Director of Crime Victim Center.
“I think COVID interrupted some of the telling children have done because they didn’t see teachers, they didn’t see coaches, they didn’t see youth ministers, but I can’t say that it made more or less abuse,” said Michael Gaines, Executive Director of Bradley H. Foulk Children’s Advocacy Center.
The executive director of the Crime Victim Center said that while the number of child abuse cases have decreased since the beginning of the school year, it’s still a problem.
“They are never going to be an acceptable level zero night, but I think that people are finally getting to the places they need to be. I think COVID taught people a lot for how to seek help in the community,” said Lukach.
If you suspect child abuse, please call the Erie County Office of Child and Youth. Their number is 814-451-6600.
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You can also call Pennsylvania’s ChildLine at 800-932-0313.