April is Child Abuse Prevention Month and I encourage everyone in to join us this month and stand up for the future of children in our community. We all have a role to play in healthy child development, and our goal this April is to help others recognize that role and the ways in which we can maximize our impact.
While 87% of adults across America believe that child abuse and neglect is a preventable problem, most don’t know how they can help. In fact, only one in four reported that they engage in child abuse prevention, when nearly 3x as many actually had in practice. You might be helping without even knowing it. From donating time or money to organizations that support children and families, to volunteering and mentoring, to helping babysit for an overburdened family – activities that support the overall well-being of families and communities contribute to the prevention of child abuse and neglect. Actions like these can help bring communities together, reduce isolation and help children and families succeed.
To have a healthy community and provide great childhoods you MUST invest in children to prevent abuse. Here is a sobering reminder of why child abuse prevention programs and funding are needed:
Data collected by the Iowa Department of Human Services in 2015 shows there were 6,042 cases of confirmed or founded child abuse in Iowa and 8,298 children found to be abused. (to report abuse call 1-800-362-2178) Those are THOUSANDS of children in Iowa that are not having great childhoods. THOUSANDS of children in Iowa that experienced a childhood trauma due to abuse or neglect and are more likely to have mental health and/or substance abuse issues, and chronic health issues as adults. For more information on the effects of ACES (adverse childhood experiences) and the effects of trauma visit: https://www.cdc.gov/violenceprevention/acestudy/index.html
Research shows that most Americans are already involved in helping to prevent child abuse and neglect through one of those actions. If you’re not already, April is a great time to start! As we observe Child Abuse Prevention Month this April, I hope you’ll take one of these simple steps to make a difference:
· Volunteering to staff an after-school program like a sports or academic team, offering to be a free tutor or getting involved with a local mentorship program.
· Mentoring a new parent by reaching out to your neighbor and offering to help, such as by babysitting or cooking
· Advocating for federal and state policies that support children and families, such as home visiting programs, maternal and children’s health programs, head start and preschool. Visit the local 4RKids Early Childhood Area Board here: https://4rkids-eci.org/
• You can learn more about Adair County early child programs in person by visiting Toddlerfest on April 16th at Nodaway Valley Elementary from 5-7 p.m. Activities, resources and a light supper will be provided! Free book for children ages 6 and under.
· Learning about abuse prevention curricula in place at local schools or churches and advocating to create one if there is not yet a program in place. Visit our local child abuse prevention Council, Success4Kids, on facebook: https://www.facebook.com/Success4Kids
· Donating money to organizations that fight for children and families such as a local Prevent Child Abuse America state chapter. You can contact Prevent Child Abuse Iowa here: www.pcaiowa.org
If we all pledge to do each of these activities at least once during the month of April, we can make a real difference. More importantly, if we all continue to take steps like these beyond April and into the future, we can help grow the next generation of American leaders, entrepreneurs, and innovators.
Community Health Coordinator
Adair County Public Health