April is National Child Abuse Prevention Month. And, since we at the RJWestmore Training System by Universal Fire/Life Safety Services value safety, we thought it pertinent to highlight the importance for people in all walks of life to value child advocacy. In other words, child advocacy is not limited to parents. With the motto, “We All Can Play a Part in Making Meaningful Connections,” this year’s campaign is designed to ensure that parents, friends, teachers and neighbors have the knowledge, skills, and resources they need to make sure children are being cared for.
Each year, more than three million reports of child abuse are made in the United States, involving more than six million children (some reports include multiple children). The United States has one of the worst records among industrialized nations – losing an average four-to-seven children every day to child abuse and neglect.
According to a landmark study done by the CDC/Kaiser Permanente Adverse Childhood Experiences, the breakdown of child abuse includes the following category and associated percentage of prevalence in the U.S.:
- Physical Abuse – 28.3%
- Sexual Abuse – 20.7%
- Emotional Abuse – 10.6%
- Physical Neglect – 9.9%
- Emotional Neglect – 14.8%
Where abuse is involved, children suffer the risk of mental health disorders, addictions and related issues which include (but are not limited to) risk for intimate partner violence, alcoholism and substance abuse, smoking and drinking at an early age, depression and suicide attempts. The good news is that we can help eliminate the above and promote children’s social and emotional well-being by preventing child maltreatment within families and communities. Research shows that when parents possess six protective factors, the risk for neglect and abuse diminish and optimal outcomes for children, youth, and families are promoted.
The six protective factors include:
- Nurturing and attachment
- Knowledge of parenting and of child and youth development
- Parental resilience
- Social connections
- Concrete supports for parents
- Social and emotional developmental well-being
April is a time to celebrate the important role that communities play in protecting children, so comprehensive participation is critical. This can be achieved by focusing on ways to build and promote protective factors in every interaction with children and families. In fact, this is the best thing any community can do to prevent child maltreatment and promote optimal child development. In support of these efforts, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Children’s Bureau, Office on Child Abuse and Neglect, its Child Welfare Information Gateway, the FRIENDS National Resource Center for Community-Based Child Abuse Prevention, and the Center for the Study of Social Policy – Strengthening Families together have created Making Meaningful Connections 2015 Resource Guide. The guide is designed for service providers who work throughout the community to strengthen families, and is available on the Information Gateway website.
We hope that this blog post will help you take steps to keep children safe during National Child Abuse Prevention Month and all year long. A convenient and affordable way to make sure you are prepared for disasters and emergencies of virtually every kind is to subscribe to the RJWestmore Training System by Universal Fire/Life Safety Services, which has been designed to help improve and save lives. Visit RJWestmore.com to read about the many ways proper planning can make a difference in numerous aspects of your professional and personal life.