April is Child Abuse Prevention Month.
The Family Crisis Child Advocacy Center (CAC), Kansas Children’s Service League (KCSL), 20th Judicial District Juvenile Services, Central Kansas CASA Inc., Department of Children & Families, The Center for Counseling & Consultation and Child Abuse Prevention Education (CAPE) are all local entities that deal with this issue after the fact but they also want to prevent child abuse and neglect before it happens.
Children do get abused in our community. Kasey Dalke, program director for the CAC, told our county commissioners Monday morning that they served 197 children who had been abused, trafficked or endangered in 2020.
“Child abuse and neglect can be reduced by making sure families have the support needed to raise children in a healthy environment,” Dalke added.
Community members have gotten involved just by raising awareness. You may notice the blue pinwheels that have gone up around town (with more to come this weekend) promoting positive childhood experiences for Kansas children.
In 2008, Prevent Child Abuse America introduced the pinwheel as the new national symbol for child abuse prevention through Pinwheels for Prevention. Their research showed that people respond to the pinwheel, which connotes whimsy and childlike notions. In essence, it has come to serve as the physical embodiment, or reminder, of the great childhoods we want for all children.
Prevent Child Abuse America offers tips to parents for stopping child abuse. They include:
• Try to understand your children. Learn how kids behave and what they can and can’t do at different ages. Have realistic expectations and be reasonable if children fall short.
• Keep your children healthy. Denying children food, sleep, or health care is abuse by neglect.
• Get help with alcohol or drug problems. Keep children away from anyone who abuses those substances.
• Watch your words. Angry or punishing language can leave emotional scars for a lifetime.
• Get control of yourself before disciplining a child. Set clear rules so the child knows what to expect. Avoid physical punishment.
• Join a support program for new parents.
There are also suggestions that all of us can use to prevent child abuse and neglect. These include volunteering your time, educating yourself and others, supporting prevention programs and investing in kids. Other suggestions include knowing what child abuse is, knowing the signs and reporting abuse.
The Family Crisis Center offers a 24/7 Crisis Line: 620-792-1885. Suspected child abuse may be reported to the Kansas Protection Reporting Center, 800-922-5330, and in an emergency or time-sensitive situation, contact local law enforcement or call 911.
Meanwhile, enjoy the pinwheels and consider the joys of childhood – every child should be healthy, happy, cherished and safe.