April marks Child Abuse Prevention and Awareness Month | St. Luke's hosts events

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TWIN FALLS, Idaho (KMVT/KSVT) - The Idaho Attorney General's Office filed a total of 590 child sexual abuse cases in 2018.

April is National Child Abuse Prevention and Awareness Month and St. Luke's Children at Risk Evaluation Services said that more than 1,700 children are evaluated at their multiple offices in Idaho for alleged abuse every year. That includes sexual, physical or children who witness a crime.

CARES program manger Sylvia Renova-Gaxiola said a misconception of child abuse is that it doesn't happen in our community.

"There's the misconception is it doesn’t happen to us, or our people or to my family," she said.

Renova-Gaxiola said that in the Gem State, every adult is mandated to reporter child abuse and they are protected under law if a case is reported.

"Any suspicion, you don't have to have proof, you don't have to ask questions. You just have tell what you know and what you suspect and what doesn't look right," she continued. "And, as adults, I think we have that gut feeling and we need to trust that, because our jobs as adults and caregivers is to keep these kids safe."

Some warning signs include when a child seems like they are more withdrawn than normal.

"(For example) they used to love to go to dance class and all of a sudden, they don’t want to, they’re not talking to their friends, they’re isolating in their rooms. Those are the typical warning signs of if a child is doing something completely different that could be signs of abuse," she explained.

One way she said adults can try and prevent child abuse is to be educated and to educate others.

Through the month of April, St. Luke's CARES will be hosting several events to educate the public.

April 3 - First Magic Valley Child Abuse Prevention Rally, starting at the courthouse in Twin Falls at 11:30 a.m.

April 5 - CSI Head Start will do a pinwheel walk at the College of Southern Idaho at 12 p.m.

April 9 - Idaho Stars "Walk for Children" at the Canyon Rim.

April 9 - Stewards of Children Trainings throughout the Magic Valley. 5:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. at St. Luke's Magic Valley Oak rooms 5 and 6.

April 24-25 - Helping children heal conference. Community event on internet safety and awareness at the College of Southern Idaho's recital hall in the fine arts building at 6 p.m.

Visit the St. Luke's CARES website for a list of numbers that can be used to report child abuse.

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