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Meritus Health Makes Moves in Preventing Child Abuse

April is Child Abuse Prevention Month, and officials with Meritus Health have been working hard to lower the number of child abuse cases in Washington County.
HAGERSTOWN, Md. - April marks Child Abuse Prevention Month, a serious issue that has affected children nationwide. 

Meritus Health is being proactive in raising awareness about this ongoing issue in the community. The colorful pinwheel display outside of the main entrance may look pretty but the meaning, not so much.

Each of the pinwheels represents a case of child abuse reported in the county.

"In 2013, in Washington County, there were 1500 cases of child abuse reported," said Andrea Blythe, interpersonal violence and abuse program coordinator.

The hospital has been working hard to put a stop to child abuse by offering forensic exams and family interventions and officials say, it is a job that is not easy to do.

"Sometimes they'll come in with visible injuries or signs of trauma, and sometimes they're in an emotional crisis because of what's going on," adds Blythe.

Unfortunately, several types of child abuse has gotten many child admitted into Meritus such as: physical, emotional, sexual or neglect.

"There may be mental health issues, there may be some frustration, there may be even some parenting problems that can be solved with education and intervention," said Laurie Harrison, executive director of Meritus Healthcare Foundation.

It is the hospital's goal to intervene before the problem becomes worse with silence never being an answer .

"We've actually received a significant amount of support from the governor's office and the lieutenant governor. They've been supportive of this program since 2008," adds Harrison.

Hospital officials say if you suspect child abuse taking place, make the first step by visiting the violence and abuse center at Meritus Health and reporting it. For more information on the program, click here.


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