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  • Nesha Q.S. Wright

National Child Abuse Prevention Month

April is National Child Abuse Prevention Month

Did you know that April is National Child Abuse Prevention Month?

What is National Child Abuse Prevention Month?

National Child Abuse Prevention Month recognizes the importance of families and communities working together to prevent child abuse and neglect. The awareness campaign also promotes the social and emotional well-being of children and families. 

In 1982, the United States Congress instituted the first National Child Abuse Prevention Week for June 6-12th. The following year, President Ronald Reagan and Congress expanded the campaign to include the entire month of April, a tradition that continues today.

This year's conference them is "Strong and Thriving Families" which recognizes that supporting families is essential to ensuring safety and permanency for children across the nation.

What is Child Abuse and Neglect?

Child abuse or neglect often takes place in the home at the hands of a person the child knows well—a parent, relative, babysitter, or friend of the family. There are four major types of child maltreatment. Although any of the forms may be found separately, they often occur together. 

Each State is responsible for establishing its own definitions of child abuse and neglect that meet Federal minimum standards. Most include the following: 

  • Neglect is failure to provide for a child’s basic needs. 

  • Physical Abuse is physical injury as a result of hitting, kicking, shaking, burning, or otherwise harming a child. 

  • Sexual Abuse is any situation where a child is used for sexual gratification. This may include indecent exposure, fondling, rape, or commercial exploitation through prostitution or the production of pornographic materials. 

  • Emotional Abuse is any pattern of behavior that impairs a child’s emotional development or sense of self-worth, including constant criticism, threats, and rejection. 

  • Trafficking is another type of child maltreatment. States are required to consider any child who is identified as a victim of sex trafficking or severe forms of trafficking (as defined in the Trafficking Victims Protection Act) as a victim of “child abuse and neglect” and “sexual abuse.” The term “sex trafficking” means the recruitment, harboring, transportation, provision, or obtaining of a person for the purpose of a commercial sex act. The term “severe forms of trafficking in persons” means sex trafficking in which a commercial sex act is induced by force, fraud, or coercion, or in which the person induced to perform such act has not attained 18 years of age.

Millions of children are abused or neglect every year in the US.  In 2017, the U.S.Department of Health and Human Services reported that Seventy-two percent (71.8%) of all child fatalities are younger than 3 years old. Nearly one-half (49.6%) of child fatalities are younger than 1 year old.  Eighty-eight percent (88.5%) of child fatalities are one of three races: White (41.9%), African-American (31.5%), and Hispanic (15.1%).  The rate of African-American child fatalities was 2.6 times greater than the rate of White children and 3.1 times greater than the rate of Hispanic children.  Eighty percent (80.1%) of child fatalities involved parents acting alone, together, or with other individuals. 

In Alabama, 28 children died as a result of child abuse or neglect in 2017. That year there were 10,847 child victims of abuse or neglect, with girls representing more than half of those children. Of the more than ten thousand child victims 64.3% of those children were White and 26.6% were African-American.

What Should You Do If you Think A Child is Being Abused?

Abusers often convince children to be silent or to lie about the abuse or neglect. Trust your instincts! If you feel uneasy about whether a child is safe with a particular person or suspect the child has been abused do not be afraid to take action. First stay calm, listen carefully to the child, never blame the child for the abuse. No child deserves to be abuse no matter the circumstances. Thank the child for telling you and most importantly REPORT THE ABUSE RIGHT AWAY!

To report child abuse or neglect contact Child Help USA at 1 (800) 422-4453. If you are in Alabama, contact the Department of Human Resources for your county

Get Involved Locally

Each year the National Child Advocacy Center in Huntsville hosts its Annual Superheroes 5K/Fun Run and Block Party. This year, the race is set for April 12, 2019 from 2:00 pm to 5:00 pm at the NCAC Campus located at 210 Pratt Avenue, Huntsville, Alabama 35801. Participants are encouraged to dress up as their favorite superhero for an afternoon of family fun, costume const, food, and inflatables. For more information or to register for the event click here.  

UNA, One Place, and other groups are partnering this month to educate students and the community about what resources are available for victims. Resources include counseling, victim advocates, medical professionals, and legal support.

At Redstone Arsenal on Thursday, April 4, 2 p.m.: Garrison Commander Col. Kelsey Smith will throw out the first pitch at the annual Bob Jones Softball Tournament at Bob Jones High School in Madison in support of Child Abuse Prevention Month. The Family Advocacy Program will also be on hand to provide information on child abuse prevention and upcoming events planned for the month at Redestone Arsenal.

Learn more about resources available to families for child abuse and neglect prevention and get a copy of this year's resource guide.

Nesha Q.S. Wright



2019 Prevention Resources Guide: Chapter 4 Protecting Children

US Dept. Health & Human Services, Children's Bureau 2017 Child Maltreatment Report

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