April is National Child Abuse Prevention Month

A Short History of National Child Abuse Prevention Month from Child Welfare Information Gateway

Increasing public awareness of the need to ensure the safety and welfare of children led to the passage of the first Federal child protection legislation, the Child Abuse Prevention and Treatment Act (CAPTA), in 1974. In 1983, April was proclaimed the first National Child Abuse Prevention Month with the President issuing a proclamation calling upon Government agencies and the public to observe the week with appropriate programs, ceremonies, and activities. In 1989, the Blue Ribbon Campaign to Prevent Child Abuse had its early beginnings as a Virginia grandmother's tribute to her grandson who died as a result of abuse. She tied a blue ribbon to the antenna of her car as a way to remember him and to alert her community to the tragedy of child abuse. Most recently, the focus has shifted toward a more positive message of celebrating "blue ribbon" individuals, organizations, and communities who have done much to prevent child abuse and neglect. Today, the Child Abuse Prevention Initiative is an opportunity for communities across the country to keep children safe, provide the support families need to stay together, and raise children and youth to be happy, secure, and stable adults.

Programs and organizations offer many different approaches to prevent child abuse, as it is a complex problem with many causes. In addition to educating parents about raising children without abuse and offering services to treat children when it has happened, another important approach is offering life skills training to children and youth to help them protect themselves from abuse.

In youth mentoring, the goal is generally to help a young person build upon his or her own strengths with the intervention of a mentor. It is the responsibility of the program to ensure their volunteers, either adult or peer, are adequately screened and trained so that they do not cause any harm to their mentees. Friends for Youth’s Mentoring Institute, the publisher of SAFE (Screening Applicants for Effectiveness): Guidelines to Prevent Child Molestation in Mentoring and Youth-Serving Organizations, recommends a stringent application process, including but not limited to criminal-history background checks and child abuse registry checks, for all volunteers.

Starting in late April, the Mentoring Institute will be offering its acclaimed training, Going Beyond the Background Check: Incorporating SAFE Practices, through webinars. Sign up to receive the announcement so you can reserve your spot.

A Short List of What You Can Do To Prevent Child Abuse adapted from Prevent Child Abuse America:

  1. Help yourself. When the big and little problems of your everyday life pile up to the point you feel overwhelmed and out of control, take time out. Don’t take it out on your children or family.
  2. Anything you do to support kids and parents can help reduce the stress that often leads to abuse and neglect.
  3. Be a friend to a child you know. Remember their names. Smile when you talk with them. Ask them about their day at school. Send them a card in the mail. Show you care. Become a mentor!
  4. Report suspected abuse or neglect. If you have reason to believe a child has been or may be harmed, call your local department of children and family services or you local police department.
  5. Volunteer your time and money for programs in your community that support children and families including local youth mentoring programs.

And check out 30 Ways to Strengthen Families During National Child Abuse Prevention Month for youth-serving programs!


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