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Prevention: How One Word Motivates Action

By: Kris Demers, Prevent Child Abuse NC Communications Manager
Date Posted: March 19, 2019 

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April is Child Abuse Prevention Month (and it’s creeping up fast)!

While some refer to April as Child Abuse Awareness Month it is actually Child Abuse Prevention Month. Let me take you on a tour through time to show you why that one word (prevention) really matters. 

» 1960’s 

Emergency room doctors started noticing and talking about the children who were coming into the ER with new and old/healed injuries. 

They decided to call this  “battered child syndrome.”

» 1974 

In response to increasing public awareness of the need to ensure the safety and welfare of children, the first federal child protection legislation was passed.

The legislation was called CAPTA – the Child Abuse Prevention and Treatment Act. 

» 1982

National Child Abuse Prevention Week was enacted to take place over the course of one week in April.

» 1983

People quickly realized that one week wasn’t enough to raise awareness for child abuse and neglect prevention.

Congress decreed that April would be National Child Abuse Prevention Month.

» 1989

The Blue Ribbon Campaign to prevent child abuse began when a Virginia grandmother tied a blue ribbon to the antenna on her car as a tribute to her grandson who died as a result of abuse. She hoped the blue ribbon would alert her community to the tragedy of child abuse.

While the Blue Ribbon Campaign was a wonderful way to raise awareness of child abuse and neglect as an issue, it didn’t reflect the message that child abuse and neglect can be prevented from ever occurring in the first place!

» 2008

To change the conversation to the role all people play in preventing abuse and neglect, Prevent Child Abuse America and it’s 50 state chapters adopted the pinwheel as the national symbol of child abuse prevention.

The pinwheel represents the great childhoods we want all children to have. It shifts the conversation from the tragedy of abuse and neglect to how we can prevent child maltreatment from ever occurring with upstream investments and strategies. 

» 2019

We're thrilled to be celebrating our 40th anniversary this year! Now more than ever, the needle is moving beyond raising awareness of child abuse and neglect prevention to what we as child-advocates, educators, neighbors, business leaders, elected officials, parents, health professionals, faith communities, and adults in general can do to build strong families and supportive communities where children can thrive.

We're seeing groups across all sectors mobilize to increase the investments in prevention education, programs and policies that are necessary to improve outcomes for children and families.

That one word – prevention - changes everything. 

» It instills hope in each of us as parents, aunts, uncles, grandparents, caregivers, educators, legislatures and leaders – that one day, we will have the infrastructure, programs and policies in place to help all families thrive. 

» It assigns responsibility to all of us to do our part and make connections that matter in our own lives.

» It generates urgency in investing in our state’s families and children; or face the consequences of the downstream effects of child abuse and neglect. 

» And, it ultimately has the power to improve outcomes for North Carolina’s children throughout their lifetime, leading to a generational domino-effect of more positive outcomes for our future. 

It's an exciting time and we've come a long way.

But now, we need everyone to not just raise awareness of Child Abuse Prevention Month, but to also make a connection that matters for prevention throughout the year. Check out our new blog post "Make Connections that Matter this Child Abuse Prevention Month" for ideas on how you can make an impact in your community! 

Tell us what you’re doing in your community to recognize Child Abuse Prevention Month and make connections that matter for prevention!

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