Child Abuse Prevention Month Seeks Community Involvement
Courtesy of the Oklahoma State Department of Health
Small, positive actions can make a difference in the life of a child. The focus this year for April, Child Abuse Prevention Month, is to highlight actions each of us can take to help raise safe, healthy, resilient children.
The theme “It’s Your Turn to Make a Difference for a Child,” brings hope that all children can get a good start in life if the adults around them take small actions that add up to a pattern of supportive community and family environments in which children can grow and develop into productive citizens.
According to the latest statistics available from the Oklahoma Department of Human Services, in 2009 there were more than 8,000 confirmations of child abuse and/or neglect in Oklahoma. There were 41 confirmed child abuse/neglect deaths in Oklahoma in state fiscal year 2008.
“Even one victim of child abuse and neglect is still one victim too many,” said OSDH Chief of Family Support and Prevention Service (FSPS) Annette Jacobi. “We are focusing our efforts to get more information into the hands of new parents about good parenting techniques that can help improve the bonding between parents and babies and show practical ways that caregivers and neighbors can help relieve the stress that is often part of life in raising children.”
“There are lots of small, positive things we can all do to help protect and nurture children, and support their caregivers, that will impact the family as a whole. Everyone can take a turn in strengthening families,” said Sherie Trice, OSDH community-based child abuse prevention grant coordinator. “A few words of praise and encouragement to a child or the caregiver, listening carefully to what a child has to say, showing a child you care, and saying ‘I love you’ are simple actions that added together have been shown to have a profound impact on a child’s life. In these very real ways, we can all support children and strengthen families.”
The OSDH FSPS offers the following parenting tips:
- Help your children feel loved and secure, even when they do something wrong.
- Encourage your children by praising their achievements, talents, and efforts. Recognize the skills they are learning.
- Spend time with your children doing things that you both enjoy. Listen to them.
- Learn how to use nonphysical options for discipline that are appropriate for your child’s age and development, and/or redirect your child’s attention by offering positive choices, and use “time out” as an age appropriate way to discipline.
- ·Seek help if you need it. Sometimes special circumstances like unemployment, or a child with special needs, can add stress to the family. If you need additional support, try to talk to a friend, health care provider, faith leader or counselor or join a support group for parents.
Finally, OSDH FSPS wants everyone to get involved with local activities related to Child Abuse Prevention Month, including the following:
- Buy a “Child Abuse Prevention” specialty license plate. Applications for the specialty license tag called “Start Right” are available at your local tag agency. The tag costs $35.00 and if applying by mail, a $2.00 shipping charged is added for a total cost of $37.00, which will take a couple of weeks to ship. Money will go into the child abuse prevention fund to support prevention programs across the state.
- Participate in “Build a Blue Ribbon Tree for Kids”. Find a highly visible spot to place your blue ribbon tree and add a blue ribbon for the number of children abused and neglected in your county; or the number of new babies born in your community; or to represent something important in your community to show your support for children.
- Call your local library to see what materials are available for parents and childcare professionals to prevent child abuse and neglect and to learn good parenting skills.
- Volunteer to serve on the statewide Child Abuse Prevention CAP ACTION Committee and plan to help with future activities.
- Get involved in Court Appointed Special Advocate (CASA) volunteer efforts to assist children through the legal system by contacting Jennifer Hunter at 1-800-742-2272.
- Get involved with Prevent Child Abuse Oklahoma by calling Micah Stirling at 1-800- CHILDREN (800-244-5373).
For general information about Child Abuse Prevention Month activities, to request materials for your community, and to discover ways to get involved, call the county health department in your area, contact Sherie Trice, OSDH FSPS at (405) 271-7611, or visit ok.gov/health/Child_and_Family_Health/Family_Support_and_Prevention_Service/