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Staff report

April marks National Child Abuse Prevention Month, a time dedicated to acknowledging the critical role families and communities play in protecting children and reinforcing family resilience. It’s a month that underscores the importance of collaborative prevention services and community support in safeguarding children and empowering families.

Child abuse prevention operates on three levels: primary, secondary, and tertiary. The primary level targets the general population to stop abuse or neglect before it happens. Secondary prevention focuses on families with identifiable risk factors, while tertiary prevention engages families where maltreatment has already occurred. This guide concentrates on the first two levels, advocating for proactive measures that create environments conducive to family and child welfare.

The vision is simple yet powerful: forge circumstances that allow every family to flourish, thereby preempting abuse or neglect. Protective factors play a pivotal role in this vision, fostering resilience in children, youth, and families and leading to better outcomes. In Bladen County, this vision has been symbolized through the Pinwheels for Prevention gardens, which serve as a beacon of hope and awareness for child abuse prevention.

Residents of Bladen County and beyond are encouraged to contribute to this movement by planting pinwheel gardens, representing our collective hope for a nurturing and positive environment for all children. These gardens are more than just an aesthetic addition; they are potent symbols of the commitment to fostering safe and prosperous futures for our youngest generations.

As part of the month’s activities, the Bladen County Division of Social Services organizes a Child Abuse Prevention Walk on April 18 at 10 a.m., starting at 208 McKay Street, Elizabethtown. The walk is a public demonstration aimed at raising awareness of the cause and is open to all who wish to participate.

The Strengthening Families Approach is centered around Five Protective Factors to help prevent Child Abuse:

  • Parental resilience
  • Social connections
  • Concrete support in times of need
  • Knowledge of parenting and child development
  • Social and emotional competence of children

These factors are both protective and promotive, contributing to establishing a nurturing family environment and the healthy development of children and youth.

Parental resilience refers to the capacity of parents to overcome the inevitable stresses of parenting through problem-solving, building strong relationships, and seeking support when needed.

Social connections provide a network of emotional support and practical assistance, while concrete support addresses the tangible needs of families, especially during crises.

Knowledge of parenting and child development enables parents to set realistic expectations and positively influence their children’s growth.

Lastly, fostering the social and emotional competence of children ensures they can interact effectively with others and manage their emotions, setting the stage for positive lifelong relationships.

In support of these efforts, the Office on Child Abuse and Neglect within the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ Children’s Bureau has released a comprehensive Prevention Resource Guide. This guide, which has been informing communities for over 15 years, shares emerging concepts in child abuse prevention and is available for the 2023/2024 period.

For more information and to access resources that can assist in the prevention of child abuse, individuals and organizations are encouraged to view and download the latest Prevention Resource Guide, which is shared as a part of the observance of National Child Abuse Prevention Month.

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