“Prevention of abuse requires that neighborhoods and communities be attentive to the problems of families in their midst and be willing to help when help is needed. It requires the active concern of educational, medical, mental health, law enforcement, and social service professionals, and the efforts of volunteers and private citizens…. I urge all citizens to renew our Nation’s commitment to meet the serious challenge that child abuse and child neglect pose to the welfare of our children and families.”
– President Ronald Reagan,
Proclamation 5039 — National Child Abuse Prevention Month, April 4, 1983
Thirty-five years ago, President Ronald Reagan proclaimed April as National Child Abuse Prevention Month in the United States. In reviewing his words, we reflect on how far we have come but also are reminded of the work ahead. We step back to look at the fight against child abuse and think about where we have been, where we are now and where we are going.
President Reagan’s call for “active concern” of child protection professionals was taken seriously. Today, the multi-disciplinary team approach is the evidence-based, preferred method for child abuse response and case evaluation. Ray of Hope facilitates semi-monthly meetings of our local multi-disciplinary team, which includes child welfare, law enforcement, prosecution, mental health and medical professionals. Today’s actively concerned professionals improve communication and coordination in child abuse cases, working toward the best possible outcomes for each child.
One theme that remains the same today as it was in 1983 (and long before) is that child abuse prevention is the responsibility of the entire community. Preventing abuse or neglect should never be a child’s burden. It “requires that neighborhoods and communities be attentive to the problems of families in their midst and be willing to help when help is needed.”
Most of us are inundated with information and distractions each day. Perhaps it has never been easier to become busy and overlook a neighbor in need or ignore a suspicion of wrongdoing. Recognizing Child Abuse Prevention Month each April serves as a time to intentionally slow down and renew your commitment to preventing, protecting and advocating for the children and families around you – to “help when help is needed.”
But many of your may be wondering, “What’s my role in protecting children?” “Does this include me? I don’t have children who live in my home.” “Where do I even start?”
As President Reagan stated 35 years ago, child abuse prevention requires each one of us. We are proud of the Bartlesville area and all the citizens actively championing the children in their lives. No single person can eradicate all child abuse, but every one of us can commit to the children around us – our children, grandchildren, neighborhood kids, students, church youth or sports players. Here’s some tips to get you started:
• Take an educational, child abuse prevention training at Ray of Hope (918.337.6177)
• Ask child serving organizations about their child safety policies.
• Talk with your children early and often about body safety.
• Know the signs of abuse and how to respond.
• Report suspected abuse to OKDHS at 1.800.522.3511.
• Share what you know with adults around you.
• Volunteer for youth serving organizations.
• Learn more at www.rayofhopeac.org.
You can follow along with each day this month as we post daily prevention tips and resources on social media or in the print edition of the Bartlesville Examiner-Enterprise. We hope you will join with us this month as we honor Child Abuse Prevention Month and celebrate the hope of safety and love for every child.