Today marks the beginning of Child Abuse Prevention Month. As the nation turns its attention to healthy child development and child abuse prevention over the next 30 days, we wanted to highlight four ways each of us can make a difference this month and throughout the year:
Educate yourself and others on the issue of child abuse and neglect prevention. Our websites, www.masskids.org and www.enoughabuse.org have extensive information on the issues of Shaken Baby Syndrome/Abusive Head Trauma, child sexual abuse, and child poverty. There you can learn about these forms of child abuse and neglect, why they exist, as well as concrete, actionable steps that you, and everyone, can take today to prevent child abuse and neglect in your community.
Advocate for effective implementation of local healthy child development and child abuse prevention efforts. Child abuse and neglect is a huge issue and it's easy for us to fall into the trap of complacency or hopelessness-- but that doesn't have to be the case. If there is a specific issue that you are passionate about then raising your voice and getting involved can make a difference. Whether you're worried about the potentially devastating effects of budget cuts on children's well-being, the accountability of the Catholic church to it's congregations, or the lack of awareness about child sexual abuse in your community-- your involvement as a child advocate can improve the lives of children in Massachusetts.
Donate financially or through the contribution of professional expertise to a local charity that supports children and families like Massachusetts Citizens for Children. Not everybody is able get directly involved with advocacy groups or make large time commitments but that doesn't make you are any less of a valuable ally or that you care any less. For many small non-profit organizations like MCC, every donation is vital for our efforts on behalf of the state's most vulnerable population.
Participate by volunteering for a local charity that supports children and families, or asking your local school boards, community centers, faith-based organizations, youth sports leagues, summer camps, and the like to incorporate child abuse prevention and healthy child development into their dialogues and programs. If you are interested in getting involved with us please visit MCC's Volunteer page. Or, if you go to the Enough Abuse Campaign's website, you can Join the Movement and take our pledge to prevent child sexual abuse in your community. Additionally, by visiting our websites you can learn about various tools that your local schools, organizations and groups may find useful in their own prevention efforts. For example our "Infant Crying and Soothing" brochures, the "It's Not Just Jenna" presentation and discussion on child sexual abuse, and local child sexual abuse prevention trainings.
April is the national child abuse prevention month and we hope you will take advantage of this opportunity to spread awareness about healthy child development, child abuse prevention, and what we can do to make children a priority-- not just for this month, but year-round.