With April fast approaching, it is important to further understand why the month is recognized as National Child Abuse Prevention Month.
“It recognizes the importance of families and communities working together to strengthen families to prevent child abuse and neglect. Through this collaboration, prevention services and supports help protect children and produce thriving families,” per childwelfare.gov.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has been a leader in the fight against child abuse. The CDC has developed four goals that are the “essentials for childhood.” Goal one is to raise awareness. Raising awareness consists of promoting stable, safe and nurturing environments for all children. Goal two is to use data to inform actions. Goal three is to develop healthy children and families through norm changes and programs. Goal four is to develop context for healthy children and families through policies. Furthermore, an example of goal four is listed in a resource guide from childwelfare.gov. “For example, the North Carolina Task Force on Essentials for Childhood is working toward goal four by funding grants to support several partners in encouraging family-friendly workplace policies. One of the grantees, Family Forward N. C., is an employer-led initiative to increase access to research-based, family-friendly practices— big and small—that support children’s healthy development. It offers resources for employees, including information about family-supportive Federal and State laws and a directory of family-friendly workplaces and the benefits they offer. Family Forward also offers an extensive online guide that can be used to develop (or advocate for) family-friendly workplace policies,” stated childwelfare.gov.
The CDC also has implemented PCN programs. PCN stands for Positive Community Norms. Childwelfare.gov defines PCN approaches as a model for improving health- related behaviors through the promotion of positive social and cultural norms. PCN has been demonstrated to be effective in creating social change around issues, such as traffic safety and underage drinking, as well as child maltreatment. The CDC has seven steps for creating and promoting PCN and are provided below:
• Planning, engaging, and educating a diverse coalition of stakeholders
• Assessing norms through surveys, focus groups, and existing data sources
• Establishing a common understanding and prioritizing opportunities based on the data collected
• Developing a portfolio of strategies aimed at different levels of the social ecology
• Pilot testing, selecting, and refining strategies and messages
• Implementing the portfolio of strategies all at once or in phases
• Assessing effectiveness and future needs through ongoing evaluation
Furthermore, there are different levels of prevention. Primary prevention is directed at the general population while secondary is focused on families with risk factors for abuse. Tertiary prevention is focused on families where abuse or maltreatment has already occurred. Increased awareness contributes highly to the prevention of child abuse. Preventchildabuse.org provided a list of specific tactics that can help. They are listed below.
• Business leaders can recognize that supporting families and children will lead to economic growth.
• Policymakers can reduce the hurdles faced by families who need support and resources.
• Faith communities can open up their spaces for parent and youth activities.
• Organizations that host families and young people can train staff on how to recognize, respond to and prevent child abuse and neglect.
• Educators can be more attuned to noticing if something seems wrong with a student and follow-up.
• Friends and neighbors can pay closer attention and help with the social isolation some parents may experience.
• Anyone who thinks a parent should seek support can share the 1-800-CHILDREN (244-5373) Helpline number.
Preventchildabuse.gov stated that children who suffer from the prolonged stress of abuse and neglect tend to struggle in their behavioral, physical, and cognitive abilities. It is also noted that not all child abuse and neglect come from just one because which is why it is often ongoing and difficult to stop. Many things, such as limited access to social services, poverty, or living in a high violence community, are abuse factors.
“Addressing community needs by giving families support has much more impact, and costs much less, than attempting to address the consequences of adversity after a child has grown up,” per preventchildabuse.gov.
Chadkids.com revealed ten ways to prevent child maltreatment. One is by simply volunteering your time and it suggests getting involved with other parents in the community and starting a playgroup. Two is to use discipline thoughtfully advising to never discipline children when you are upset. Encourage good behavior with privileges and use time-outs to help your child regain composure. Three is to examine your own behavior as it is noted that abuse is not just physical. Keep in mind to speak kindly and be a nurturing parent. Four is to educate yourself and others. Five is to teach children their rights by teaching them they have the right to be safe. Six is to support prevention programs. Seven is to know what child abuse is. Abuse can be physical, sexual, and emotional. It is also neglecting to provide a child with basic needs like food and clothing. Eight is to know the signs of abuse, such as unexplained injuries, changes in mood like depression, changes in sleeping or eating patterns, inappropriate sexual behavior, poor hygiene, and hostility. Nine is to report abuse if you see the signs of abuse or witness it. Ten is to invest is children by encouraging communities and workplaces to have inclusivity and provide family-friendly environments.
Teamwv.org is a state organization that provides prevention and treatment resources for West Virginia. Their webpage invites everyone to “lease help us kick this month off with Wear Blue Day on Thursday, April 1. Invite your friends and family to wear blue with you and share a photo on social media using the hashtags #WearBlueDay2022, #CAPMonth and #GrowingBetterTogether. Additionally, W. Va. has its own hotline for child abuse and neglect. You can contact the W. Va. Child Abuse and Neglect Hotline at 1 (800) 352-6513. They are available 24 hours a day, seven days a week. For serious physical abuse or sexual abuse, also contact the state police and local law enforcement.