(WYTV) – In the last year, about one in seven children in the U.S. have experienced child abuse or neglect. It can have profound impacts on children’s behavioral, physical and cognitive abilities as they navigate through their lives.

Jennifer Collar, with Mahoning County Children Services, says a vigilant community is crucial to protecting children, especially because children can’t report abuse and they have to rely on the adults around them to protect them.

“That young child may be in a situation and they can’t articulate or come forward about the situation or circumstance that they find themselves in,” Collar said.

They may not even understand the circumstance that they’re in, but individuals around them can be that voice, support and advocate and make that phone call.

“One of the ways that our community can help children and advocate on their behalf is to report child abuse when you see it or even suspect it,” Collar said. “One call might make all the difference in the life of a child who may be being abused or neglected,”

Collar says you don’t have to be the expert. They just ask that you let child welfare agencies like Mahoning County Children Services know so they can do what they’re trained to do and get to the bottom of the situation.

There are also other ways you can get involved like helping out a struggling family.

“If you know a family that could use an errand run for them, mentor a family, you can also become a foster parent to help children who are abused and neglected within the system,” she said.