NORTHAMPTON, Mass. (WWLP) – At least one in seven children have experienced child abuse or neglect in the past year here in the United States.

In Northampton, The Children’s Advocacy Center of Hampshire County (CAC) is supporting the hundreds of child abuse survivors they have served. CAC Executive Director, Kara McElhone says, “84% of the children who are abused in Massachusetts, it is at the hands of a caregiver, someone they love, someone they trust.”

2,400 luminaries illuminated Hampshire County, each one representing a child abuse survivor, supporters stood in solidarity. “They are so vulnerable, they’ve been hurt and they’ve seen things a child should never see,” says Bikers Against Child Abuse President, Chopper.

According to state data, In 2022, there were just over 90,000 reports of child maltreatment in Massachusetts, an increase of 10,000 reports since 2021. During Child Abuse Prevention Month, The Children’s Advocacy Center of Hampshire County is calling attention to the serious public health problem.

McElhone says, “It’s really hard for kids to have to come forward and share their experience. We need the community to step up. We need adults, whoever you are, whether you are a mandated reporter, or just somebody’s neighbor. if you are worried about a child, make a report.”

Some physical signs of child abuse include:

  • Poor hygeine
  • Poor weight gain, and malnutrition
  • Bruising, fractures, and/or defensive injuries

Some behavioral signs include:

  • Fear
  • Anxiety
  • Clinging

If you know or suspect that a child is being abused or neglected, you are asked to report it immediately to the Department of Children and Families.

You can also call the Child at Risk Hotline, (800) 792-5200.