BALTIMORE (WJZ) — One Maryland group has a mission to save the lives of children affected by child abuse.

April is Child Abuse Awareness Month, which is when the Baltimore Child Abuse Center will hold its annual gala to raise funds for its mission, and raise awareness of its services.

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The acts of child abuse are discussed more than reported.

It’s something the Baltimore Child Abuse Center wants to change.

“Unless that first step is taken – where they call and they report the abuse – we don’t know it exists, and we don’t know how to help,” Colby Smith, Be A Hero Gala co-chair and child abuse survivor. “So the first step is always reporting, which is why Senate Bill 135 is so necessary for our state.”

SB 135 penalizes those who fail to report known child abuse.

For five years, child abuse survivor Colby Smith has been working to turn the bill into Maryland law.

“It takes money. It takes money and time,” said Smith.

To support the efforts of the Baltimore Child Abuse Center requires funding. That’s why they are are holding their annual fundraiser gala at the Lord Baltimore Hotel.

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“And we’ve been able to, sort of, bridge the gap that way in some of our funding to help keep these programs in place and expand them to support children,” said Smith.

“Back in the 1970s, there wasn’t very much, or there wasn’t any talk of sexual abuse, or that it was a problem or could be a problem,” said Jamie Smith, Be A Hero Gala co-chair and child abuse survivor.

Jamie Smith, also a child abuse survivor, shared her story of being sexually abused as a child in her home by her stepfather for up to six years.

“I was incredibly nervous,” said Smith. “But I left there and I felt strong, stronger than I was. I felt like if I can do that, and be of help to other people by sharing my story, then that’s what I wanted to do.”

It’s a conversation followed by actions. Actions that those who work with the Baltimore Child Abuse Center hopes transform lives.

Senate Bill 135 passed the rules committee on Tuesday, and it is up to the House to decide.

Tickets are already sold out for the gala, but click here for more information on the Baltimore Child Abuse Center and their Be A Hero Gala.

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