Illinois' child abuse rates are the highest in the southern third of the state.
To kick off April as National Child Abuse Prevention Month in Union County, child advocacy groups and local leaders gathered Tuesday to recognize the event.
Children's Medical and Mental Health Resource Network clinical director Ginger Meyer says child abuse is preventable. She says one way to do that is by teaching parents how to be good parents.
"If we are not able to grow healthy and productive children, they will turn into adults who abuse children. So, it's important to start somewhere. If we can start with teaching the parents how to really nurture their children, that's going to make a world of difference."
Meyer says another way to help is with community support. For example, she says offer to babysit for a couple of hours so parents can run errands without worrying about transporting their kids.
Meyer says many people believe investigators with the Department of Children and Family Services want to take people's children, but that's not the case.
"The state is not a good parent. They do not want to keep their children. So, if we can help them to have some sort of semblance of keeping their children and programs to understand how to do that the best way, that's what they want to do. So, it's not all negative."