By Amanda Hatfield
VIERA -- Throughout the United States, Child Protective Service agencies received more than 3.4 million calls in 2011 alone.
That same year, an estimated 1,570 children died as a result of abuse and neglect in the U.S.
These statistics, however, aren't as far-reaching as one may think.
Out of these 1,570 fatalities, 133 occurred in Florida, according to a report by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Children's Bureau.
From October 2011 through December 2012, Brevard County received 9,031 reports of child abuse, with 1,558 of those reports being substantiated, indicating that an investigation was performed by a state agency to confirm that child abuse and neglect did occur.
Brevard resident Helene Pinsky thinks these figures are entirely too high, and that it's time for a change.
With a goal of spreading awareness, Mrs. Pinsky will host a fundraiser at Sunbay Fitness in Viera on Monday, April 8 to benefit the Children's Home Society, a statewide nonprofit provider of services to children and families.
Between the hours of 9 a.m. and 7 p.m., Mrs. Pinsky hopes to better educate the community about recognizing signs of child abuse, in correlation with April's Child Abuse Awareness Month.
"The Children's Home Society of Florida's mission is to safeguard children from abuse and neglect, and to help strengthen families in crises," Mrs. Pinsky said. "The Brevard division is located in Melbourne and currently serves 800 children and families on a daily basis."
With programs ranging from in-home counseling and dependency case management to the Hacienda Girls Ranch - a group home and emergency center for females, ages 12-18 - the Children's Home Society plays an intricate role in the Brevard County community.
"As a former clinical social worker, whose specialization was working with sexual abuse victims and their families, this cause is near and dear to my heart," Mrs. Pinsky said.
Amazed at the lack of public awareness as to what constitutes abuse and how to report any suspicions, Mrs. Pinsky, along with Christa Griffin, developmental specialist for the Brevard Division of the Children's Home Society of Florida, hope to educate the public about this important matter.
"It is my intent to provide valuable information that includes enhancing people's understanding of signs and symptoms of child abuse, and reporting protocols and available community resources," Mrs. Pinsky said.
A variety of local vendors will also be on-hand at the event to provide literature and information for attendees.
"My secondary goal is to promote more grassroots community efforts through local businesses supporting one other," Mrs. Pinsky added.
All money raised at the event will remain within the county and will help fund the Brevard division of the Children's Home Society of Florida.
"In chatting, Christa (Griffin) and I discovered a common denominator, and I offered to do a fundraising event for the agency," Mrs. Pinsky said. "This is locals supporting locals, at its best."
The Children's Home Society of Florida Child Abuse Awareness Month fundraiser will take place Monday, April 8 from 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. at Sunbay Fitness in Viera.
Sunbay Fitness is located at 5410 Murrell Road, Rockledge.
For more information about the Children's Home Society of Florida, Brevard Division, visit www.chsfl.org or call (321) 752-3170.