Pinwheels for Prevention


April is Child Abuse Prevention Month


“Protecting Children is everyone’s Business”

Pinwheels for Prevention

 

April is Child Abuse Prevention Month. Each year, the Warren County Child Abuse Prevention Council joins with others across the state and country to increase awareness about child abuse and the importance of prevention.

The theme of the local campaign is “Protecting Children is Everyone’s Business”.  Banner and signs are displayed throughout the county to proclaim April as Child Abuse Prevention Month. Blue ribbons have long been associated with child abuse prevention. Ribbons are tied on trees outside of county buildings and area schools to remind people that child abuse can be prevented. Blue pinwheels are also being used across the country as part of the national Pinwheels for Prevention campaign. Pinwheels are a reminder of childhood and are symbolic of the change and forward progress in families across America.

Child Abuse Prevention Month is a time to increase awareness about the importance of prevention; a time to reduce risk factors for abuse and to promote protective factors to ensure the well-being of children and families.

Why is Prevention Important?

An investment in children is an investment in community and economic development. When we support communities, we support the families that live in them. And, when families are supported, children are more likely to grow up happy and healthy, free from the risk of maltreatment.

Science tells us that the experiences children have early in life actually build the architecture of their developing brains. Brains are built over time, just like houses and they require a strong foundation. Experiences of abuse damage this foundation and harm brain development.

Science also tells us that “toxic stress” – chronic conditions such as poverty and abuse can compromise the brain’s architecture and derail later development. Fortunately, the research also tells us what types of environments ensure healthy brain development and what all children need for healthy development.

Children need opportunities to develop their cognitive abilities but we must pay equal attention to their social and emotional abilities. All of the developmental domains work together. This development happens in an environment of relationships. When an infant or child reaches out for interaction with a caregiver and the caregiver responds consistently and appropriately, healthy pathways are built in the child’s brain.  This is similar to a “serve and return” in tennis or volleyball. These healthy pathways are not built in the brains of children who are living in abusive environments and this has a negative impact on the child’s development in the short term and long term.
Children need environments free of “toxic stress” or the kind of chronic, serious stress caused by experiences such as abuse, neglect or violence. This kind of stress damages children’s brains and affects their long term physical health.

In order to support healthy brain development in all children, comprehensive programs must be maintained to protect children from toxic stress and to encourage strong “serve and return” interactions with their caregivers. One way to do this is to support programs such as the Wee Care Respite Nursery and the Young Parents programs available in Warren County. These and other successful prevention programs work with families that have young children increasing the likelihood of healthy outcomes.

Throughout the month of April, let us celebrate that many parts of our community are coming together to create positive, healthy environments that support children’s development. Please join in supporting local child abuse prevention programs and help create a more prosperous, positive future for all of us.

5 Protective Factors

Protective factors are conditions in families and communities that, when present, increase the health and well being of children and families.

  1. Nurturing and Attachment
    A child’s early experience of being loved and developing a bond with a caring adult affects all aspects of behavior & development.
  2. Knowledge of Parenting & Child Development
    Understanding how children grow & develop helps parents to encourage appropriate behavior as well as set and enforce limits based on the child’s age.
  3. Parental Resilience
    Resilience is the ability to handle everyday stressors & recover from occasional crises. A positive attitude and the ability to creatively solve problems means parents are less likely to direct anger and frustration at their children.
  4. Social Connections
    Parents need support. Trusted and caring family & friends can offer encouragement and assistance in facing the daily challenges of raising a family.
  5. Concrete Supports for Parents
    Parents need basic resources (food, housing, etc) & access to services (such as health care & child care) to ensure the health and well-being of their children. Connecting families to the supports that they need is critical to helping them cope with stress.

 

The Child Abuse Prevention Council and Community Partnerships for Protecting Children sponsored the movie Barnyard at Memorial Park in Indianola in April of 2009 as part of Child Abuse Prevention Month.


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