April is National Child Abuse Prevention Month
For the last 35 years, April has been a time for communities all across the country to work on increasing awareness of child abuse and neglect and to provide prevention resources and strategies. Over the last month, organizations from coast to coast have been working to promote healthy parenting and strong families. You may have noticed some of them: proclamations, statements, banners, billboards, events, and pinwheel gardens. The Fountain Hill Center has been doing its part in Oceana County, through the Oceana County CASA Program. Read on to find out more!
What We’ve Been Doing
The Oceana County CASA Program has been hard at work this month raising awareness by placing banners and pinwheels. The blue and silver pinwheels—purchased by the Children’s Trust Fund of Michigan—symbolize the happy, safe, and carefree childhoods that all children deserve.
Several community partners have helped CASA in raising awareness, including:
- The Ladder Community Center – assisted with banner placement and pinwheel planting in Shelby
- New Era Reformed Church middle school youth group – assisted with banner placement and pinwheel planting in Rothbury and New Era
- FOCUS/Pace After-School Program – hosted a presentation and activity on CAP Month by Oceana County CASA and tasked with banner placement and pinwheel planting in Walkerville
- ASPIRE After-School Program – made pinwheel flower pots for distribution throughout the community
Why It Matters
Though the incidence of child abuse and neglect has decreased significantly since 1990, too many children still fail to grow up in safe and healthy environments where their basic needs are met.
In 2016, an estimated 1,750 children died nationwide of abuse and neglect. Last year in Michigan, child protective services investigated 90,760 complaints, and found evidence of child abuse or neglect in 26,017 cases (29%). These cases account for 37,970 victims, 40% of whom were under the age of four.
In 2002, an independent analysis estimated the annual cost of child abuse in Michigan to be $1.8 TRILLION.* The same analysis also determined that prevention programs are not only more humanitarian but vastly more cost effective than after-the-fact treatment, even when such programs result in only modest reductions in the overall incidence of child abuse and neglect.
What does this mean for each of us, on a personal level? Essentially, it means that every time we spend time or energy in making sure a child receives a safe and healthy upbringing, we’re making the kind of investment that Wall Street bankers can only dream of: one with a guaranteed rate of return totaling in the multiple millions.
What Can I Do?
We all play a role in creating the safe, stable, and nurturing relationships and environments that children need to grow up happy and healthy. April may be over, but children certainly need to be cared for the whole year round. Here are a few things that almost anyone can do at any time in order to make a positive difference in a child’s life:
- Mentor a child or a parent
- Advocate for family-friendly policies
- Get involved with organizations engaged in child advocacy
Even small acts can make a big difference. Volunteering to babysit for parents who need a break, writing a letter to your employer or congressperson in support of family-friendly policies like paid parental leave, and making a donation to a child advocacy organization are all great ways to help prevent instances of child abuse and neglect.
If you’re looking for another way to make a difference but aren’t sure where to start, give The Fountain Hill Center a call at (616) 456-1178 or send us an email at firstname.lastname@example.org. We’d love to help connect you with just the kind of opportunity you’re looking for, in your area.
*Part of what makes this number so high is that some of the problems that can be caused by child abuse and neglect—like low birthweight, physical injuries, cognitive impairments, and socioemotional or psychological problems—are expensive to treat and linger for a long time, sometimes for a person’s entire lifetime.