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National Child Abuse Prevention Month

 

In 1983, the President of the United States issued a proclamation designating April as the National Child Abuse Prevention Month in response to the growing scale of child maltreatment in the nation.  Thirty years later, the awareness campaign still takes place every year, and is coordinated by the Office on Child Abuse and Neglect (OCAN) of the Children’s Bureau

 

Despite three decades of efforts by government agencies and multiple nonprofits and charitable organizations, however, nearly five children die from abuse and neglect in the Unites States every single day.  Alarmingly, the situation is not getting any better.  In 2012 alone, there were 287,000 reported young victims of abuse and neglect, up from 279,000 a year earlier.  For more statistics on child abuse in the U.S., click here.

 

Protecting the youngest from any kind of abuse, be it psychological, physical, or sexual, is one of the tenets of a healthy society.  This is why the Child Abuse Prevention Month is one of the oldest and most widely celebrated cause-related events in the American calendar.  Because the problem affects the whole nation’s future, prevention efforts have embraced not only specific cases, but the entire public space.  Educating and advising communities, fostering child growth and well-being through a healthy social environment, increasing parental resilience, and supporting and educating parents on methods to prevent child abuse have all been crucial in creating communities that are safer and more nurturing for the youngest Americans.

 

And the change can come from any of us.  In 1989, the Child Abuse Prevention Campaign found a new symbol – the blue ribbon.  The custom of wearing and displaying blue ribbons came from Bonnie Finney, a Virginia grandmother, who upon learning about her grandson’s tragic death resulting from severe injuries inflicted by his parents, attached a blue ribbon to the antenna of her van.  In this way, she wanted to remind her local community that child abuse is a real problem and needs to be addressed in a united and concerted effort.  From then on, the blue ribbon has become a powerful reminder that child abuse, though often tacit and unnoticeable, still lingers as an immense problem of the American society.

 

Fortunately, public agencies and nonprofit organizations are working hard to change this.  The Children’s Bureau website acts as an information hub for anyone who would like to learn more about the Child Abuse Prevention Month celebrations.    

 

The National Child Traumatic Stress Network hosts a multitude of child abuse prevention resources for parents, educators, communities, and public entities on its own webpagePrevent Child Abuse America offers a compact resource packet with valuable tips for parents in both English and Spanish.  Even more tips can be found on the American Humane Society and the Love Our Children USA websites.       

 

There are hundreds of events taking place this month across the country to celebrate the National Child Abuse Prevention Month.  The National Children’s Alliance provides a long list of local initiatives taking place in April across America.  For example, the Kempe Foundation for the Prevention and Treatment of Child Abuse and Neglect is hosting a number of events in Colorado.  Check with your local children’s hospital for any local celebrations.     

 

However, celebrating can also take place in the privacy of your own home.  Just follow this calendar of daily activities to share with your child throughout the month.