WARREN, Ohio (WKBN) – April is National Child Abuse Awareness month — and for an idea of how big of a problem it is in the Valley — Trumbull County Children Services has seen 55 percent more kids in their care within the last two years.
The most common abuse is neglect.
“It has definitely gotten a lot worse given the issues we are dealing with,” said Renee Bastonis, supervisor of Trumbull County Children Services.
To help raise awareness about child abuse, on April 7, the Trumbull agency will be placing 1,600 pinwheels on the front lawn of Warren City Hall to represent how many children are victims to abuse.
Nowadays, much of it stems from parents choosing to use drugs.
“There was less drug activity. And now that has increased, which has caused an increase in child abuse as well,” Bastonis said.
In 2014, there were 1,485 children in foster care. That number grew in 2015 to 1,624.
Last year 1,637 were abused.
“We’re seeing a lot of families struggling with homelessness, criminal activity — there’s a lot of children placed in unsafe environments,” Bastonis said. “So it is a huge issue we’re dealing with.”
When parents use drugs, you may not think of how much that effects the child.
“The children are struggling because of the environment that is caused due to the drug abuse,” Bastonis said. “The environments are unsafe [when] parents are engaging in criminal activity.”
Bastonis said she sees cases where some children have to learn how to take care of themselves.
“A child as young as 7 and 8 will become parent-fied,” she said. “They will have to learn how to parent their siblings due to the neglect from individuals who choose to use drugs.”