CHILD ABUSE AND NEGLECT: SC governor joins state agencies and organizations to recognize growing issue

COLUMBIA, SC (WOLO) — Thursday afternoon, Governor Henry McMaster declared April as Child Abuse Prevention Month.

He was joined by other child-serving organizations and agencies. 

“I’d urge everyone to take stock of the great blessings we have. Among the greatest is our children,” the governor said about the 1.1 million kids that live in South Carolina. 

However, the state’s Department of Social Services (DSS) received 66,000 calls last year. This number is up from 52,000 in 2020.

“We accepted probably about 55 percent of those, 36,000 cases,” said DSS director Mike Leach. “You’re seeing everything from severe sexual abuse all the way down to people calling in saying ‘I need help.’”

Agencies like the Department of Children’s Advocacy help to point parents in the right direction when it comes to resources.

“Being a parent is stressful. Parents are stressed out about how to help their children with their homework or how to get diapers for their newborn,” said Amanda Whittle, South Carolina Department of Children’s Advocacy director.

The state of South Carolina also participates in a program called Thriving Familes, Safer Children.

“Through our participation in the partnership, we are making progress in serving those in our communities who most need help,” Leach said. “Breaking harmful multi generational cycles of trauma and poverty is an ongoing process.”

It requires programs that prevent child abuse such as those supported by the Children’s Trust of South Carolina.

“We help parents to be stronger parents by building their skills, knowledge and resources to raise happy, healthy children. For example, by supporting evidence based prevention programs throughout the state like Home Visiting, we help new mothers be their child’s first teacher,” said Sue Williams, director of Children’s Trust of South Carolina.

Williams also spoke about another program called Strengthening Families.

While these resources do help, the DSS director says the Palmetto State can do more.

“We realize there’s a lack of services in the state,” Leach said. “Sue mentioned 28 counties for Strengthening Families. Why can’t we have 46 counties?”

If you need to report child abuse or neglect, you can contact the DSS hotline anonymously to help someone in need.

Categories: Local News, Richland