April is National Child Abuse Prevention Month

April is National Child Abuse Prevention Month. The goal of Child Abuse Prevention Month is to increase awareness and encourage community support of children and families.

Jessica Banks, a WCU senior, feels that for her, “… prevention is about educating and providing resources to parents. A well educated, prepared parent with plenty of resources is less likely to abuse than parents with none of these attributes.”

Passage of the Child Abuse Prevention and Treatment Act in 1974 provided states with federal funding to support, prevent, assess, investigate and prosecute child abuse. In 1982, there was an increase in child abuse and neglect cases which eventually lead to Child Abuse Prevention Week. In 1983, April was established as National Child Abuse Prevention Month. It also guided to the Keeping Children and Families Safe Act of 2003.

Ashley Cody, a junior at Western Carolina, thinks that, “Child abuse has a lasting effect on the child. We must advocate for the rights of children and provide resources to families. Resources such as stress management training can enable parents to work through their problems, instead of hurting their children.”

A major component of Child Abuse Prevention Month is the Blue Ribbon Campaign. It was started in the mid 1980s by a grandmother whose grandson died as a result of abuse. The goal of the Blue Ribbon Campaign is to pass out little blue ribbons that can be pinned onto clothing and outerwear with the intention of someone asking the question, “What is the blue ribbon for?” There are also blue ribbon magnets and stickers available for cars.

The message of today’s Child Abuse Prevention Month is that a strong family will produce happy secure children who will be productive members of society as adults.

“Society is making progress in the area of preventing child abuse and neglect. The more that society knows about child abuse and neglect, the better the prevention efforts work. Education is the key to prevention,” states Dr. Tonya Westbrook, Associate Professor in the Social Work Department at WCU.