April is National Child Abuse Prevention Month, a time to raise awareness and prevention for child abuse and neglect. During this month, organizations across the U.S. elevate the importance of creating systems and programs that put children and families first by providing them with the resources they need before a situation becomes a crisis. Raising awareness is a critical first step in preventing child abuse and neglect, and this month is an opportunity to grow support for what should happen year-round.
What Is Child Abuse Prevention?
Child Abuse Prevention (CAP) can be anything that strengthens families and helps children thrive. This can include evidence-based programs that help parents build the necessary skills they need to create a strong family. It can also be as simple as helping a parent who feels overwhelmed through being sympathetic or understanding. There are many different programs, strategies, and solutions that support children and families. Prevention can fall into three main categories: primary prevention, secondary prevention, and tertiary prevention.
Primary Prevention: This type of prevention can involve anyone in the community who intervenes before abuse and neglect occurs. Primary prevention can include supporting Child Abuse Prevention Month.
Secondary Prevention: This includes populations, communities, or neighborhoods who have high risk factors that involve child maltreatment, parental substance use, parental mental health concerns, poverty, and parent or child disabilities. This type of prevention also happens before the abuse and neglect occurs and can be done through providing resources for these populations such as home visiting programs, family resource centers, strong social support networks, outreach programs, local support, and more.
Tertiary Prevention: This type of prevention happens once abuse and maltreatment has already occurred. Providing this population with access to safe and stable housing, safe and engaging after school programs, medical care, mental health services, community/local support, etc., can help reduce the negative consequence to the maltreatment and help prevent its recurrence.
What Can We Do to Take Action During Child Abuse Prevention Month?
Raise Awareness: Help the public, and your community, understand that we all have a role to play in preventing child maltreatment. Wear blue during the month of April, raise awareness through social media, or provide extra support for other families and their children.
Connect with others and engage your community: Working together creates a stronger community and stronger families. Connect with local advocates or the school to help build a strong network to support children and their families.
Support and educate: Help families connect to local programs, mental health services, family services, and other outreach resources within the community, as well as share family-focused materials to help parents know where to find support.
Ross County services for child abuse and neglect:
Child Protection Center: 740-779-7434
Ross County Children Services: 740-773-2651
Ross County Department of Job and Family Services: 740-596-2584
To learn more about Child Abuse Prevention go to: https://www.cdc.gov/violenceprevention/childabuseandneglect/prevention.html
Leslie Hamman, MSW,LSW
Social Worker, Chillicothe City School District
740.775.4250 Ext. 16172