The month of April marks a month of awareness for National Child Abuse Prevention. According to The Children's Bureau, within the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and Child Welfare Information Gateway, each year in April, the President of the United States issues a proclamation to announce National Child Abuse Prevention Month. Many State Governors also issue proclamations to encourage public awareness of child abuse and neglect, recommit State resources to the cause, and promote community involvement through State and local activities. In his proclamation this year, President Obama stated, "regardless of who they are or the circumstances of their birth, each child deserves to be cared for, cherished, and kept safe from harm. Tragically, abuse and neglect erode this promise for hundreds of thousands of America's daughters and sons each year....this month, we celebrate the love and courage it takes to raise a child; we reaffirm the fundamental human rights of all children to live free from violence and abuse; and we rededicate ourselves to ending the cycle of harm too many girls and boys face." (https://www.whitehouse.gov/the-press-office/2015/03/31/presidential-proclamation-national-child-abuse-prevention-month-2015)
Being a parent is by far one of the most challenging roles, especially because parents are wrestling the day to day "hustle" of juggling multiple tasks of adulthood and parenting. Providing children with safe and healthy environments is a priority, but for some parents who face hardships such as financial and economical strain, home and community violence, fatherless homes, lack of support with small children, and caring for children with emotional and developmental difficulties, it can be difficulty to maintain loving and happy homes. These risk factors increase the probability and association that children in these families will experience abuse and maltreatment. Each year, thousands of children in Virginia suffer from abuse and neglect with more than 50,000 reports of child abuse and/or neglect being reported. With prevention and support, parents can learn to manage the stressors and identify more positive ways of parenting children. With Beginnings Family Enrichment's family education, parents can take advantage of the resources offered on positive discipline in kindness and firmness. Moreover, parents can also learn from each other and gain an appreciation that they are "not alone" in their struggles. This support can be key in establishing protective factors for families at risk of abuse and neglect. This month, I encourage families to participate in workshops geared towards positive parenting practices. In addition, Monday, April 13, 2015 is National Wear Blue Day! I encourage you to wear blue in support of child abuse prevention and the promotion of healthy families!
It is important for all people to recognize the signs of child neglect and physical, sexual, and emotional abuse, including sudden changes in behavior or school performance and untreated physical or medical issues. Reporting any concerns could protect a child and connect a family with the help they need. To learn more about how to prevent and report child abuse, visit www.ChildWelfare.gov/Preventing.