WATERVILLE – Waterville will soon be the city of blue lights.

Starting Friday, about 40 businesses on Main Street will have tiny blue lights burning in their windows to recognize Child Abuse & Neglect Prevention Awareness Month.

Deb Rich’s hope is that when people see the lights, they will think about the fact that child abuse and neglect is real.

“It doesn’t just happen to someone somewhere else — it happens right here,” Rich said. “When you see or hear it happening, call. People are afraid to call. People just don’t want to get a finger pointed at them. But children depend on us to protect them.”

Rich is the community resource provider for Kennebec Valley Community Action Program’s Family Enrichment Council — the Child Abuse & Neglect Council for Somerset and Kennebec counties.

One of 16 Child Abuse & Neglect councils in the state, it is planning events Friday to kick off the prevention and awareness month. The public is invited to attend an event at 7:30 p.m. Friday in Castonguay Square next to City Hall, Rich said.

Police Chief Joseph Massey will read a proclamation from the City Council. State police Sgt. Vicki Gardner and Albert S. Hall School Principal Harriet Trafford also will speak, as will Meg Hatch, advocate for the Sexual Assault Crisis & Support Center, based in Winthrop.

Massey said everyone must help prevent child abuse and neglect.

On Wednesday, a shopper at Walmart called police because she saw an infant alone in a vehicle with the engine running, Massey said. Police responded, found the parents, charged them and contacted the state Department of Health and Human Services.

“We’re just delighted she called, and we hope that everyone would do that — that they all get involved and not just walk away,” Massey said.

He also cited a case from 2006 when a man tried to abduct an 8-year-old girl in a parking lot but he was stopped by two nearby men.

Massey said he is pleased that April is set aside as a time to help raise awareness. “I think it should be in everyone’s mind, 12 months a year,” he said.

Rich got the idea for the lights from New York City, which recognizes domestic violence awareness month in October by lighting up a building in purple lights, she said.

“It is spectacular — it is beautiful,” Rich said.

She encouraged others to display blue lights in their windows, whether in businesses or homes, to show support for children.