The numbers are staggering.
In the United States, 7.9 million children fall victim to child abuse a year and only 3.4 million receive prevention and post-response services.
The coronavirus pandemic is shedding an even greater light on a grim situation. Across the nation and in North Carolina, child abuse and neglect continues to be prevalent.
Reports of child abuse have had a sharp decrease during the pandemic. Experts believe this can be owed to increased isolation as children spend more time at home and away from mandatory reporters, like a teacher. In sum, abuse is still happening, but opportunities for reporting are severely inhibited.
The CDC is reporting a spike in emergency department visits related to abuse or neglect ending in hospitalizations increased from 2.1% in 2019 to 3.2% in 2020.
April is National child abuse prevention month, proclaimed nationally by the White House each year. In recognition of Child Abuse Prevention month, blue pub wheels are displayed in communities across the nation. The entire hill from the street to the old Jackson County courthouse is covered in them.
The blue pinwheel was introduced in 2008 by Prevent Child Abuse America and serves as the national symbol for child abuse prevention. Pinwheel gardens represent our effort to focus on community activities that support families and public policies that prioritize prevention right from the start to make sure child abuse and neglect never occur. Pinwheels are used to help educate communities about the importance of supporting children and families. Shining in the sun, the pinwheel is reflective of the bright future all children deserve and our belief that getting it right early is less costly than trying to fix it later.
Community-based child abuse prevention programs are a critical tool for preventing the mistreatment of children and advancing equity. Authorized by Title II of the Child Abuse Prevention and Treatment Act, the purpose of community-based child abuse prevention programs is to support local efforts that strengthen and support families to reduce the likelihood of child abuse. These programs offer comprehensive assistance that improves family stabilization, while also fostering meaningful engagement with diverse populations to promote effective prevention strategies.
National Child Abuse Prevention Month is a time for us to not only honor those who work to support children and strengthen families, but to shine a light on the many ways we can all play a role in preventing children from being harmed. The Prevention Resource Guide, an annual publication by the Department of Health and Human Services, Administration for Children and Families Children’s Bureau outlines actions that can be taken by communities, organizations, families, and individuals to address the root causes of child abuse and provide meaningful and equitable support to families. You can access the Prevention Resource Guide and other resources at the Child Welfare Information Gateway’s Child Abuse Prevention Month website. By increasing efforts to prevent child abuse, we will help children, families, and communities thrive.