RALEIGH, N.C. (WNCN) — April is Child Abuse Prevention Month in North Carolina.

The statewide theme this year is “Growing Better Together, We Can Prevent Child Abuse, North Carolina!”

“We know that caring connections, strong foundations and positive experiences really matter when it comes to healthy development of children,” Kris Demers said with Prevent Child Abuse North Carolina.

Demers said COVID-19 has been challenging on families, something North Carolina Governor Roy Cooper acknowledged in a recent video message.

“We’re doing more to wrap services around the whole family,” Cooper said. “When we work together to support our children and families in every corner of our state, we can build a strong future for all.”

The latest data from July 2019 to June 2020 shows there were more than 117,000 reports of children being mistreated in North Carolina.

“So that means someone suspected that abuse and neglect was occurring, and those children were investigated for that so it’s a huge number and it’s 100 percent preventable,” Demers said.

Child abuse and neglect warning signs include unexplained bruises or injuries, a child being more withdrawn or shy than usual, delayed development, hunger and poor hygiene.

“It’s a community-wide responsibility to look out for our children and not just report and look out for the signs of abuse and neglect but to build those safe environments so that abuse and neglect never have to happen in the first place,” Demers said. 

If you suspect child abuse or neglect, you must report it to the county Department of Social Services. This is the law. 

For more on what you can do to prevent child abuse, click here.