The majority of child abuse cases in Iowa stem from situations and conditions that are entirely preventable in an engaged and supportive community. A community that cares about early childhood development, parent support and maternal mental health, for instance, is more likely to see families nurturing children who are born healthy and enter school ready to learn.
Approximately 80% of the substantiated acts of child abuse and neglect are committed by parents or family members. A lack of parenting skills, knowledge and support is cited as the primary reason. Yet, we continue to ignore the overwhelming need to prepare parents and caregivers better.
If we work together to change the way society values and supports the well-being of children and families and if we can change the cultural attitude to ensure that healthy, safe and nurturing experiences are supported by the actions of every individual and every community, then “preventing child abuse” no longer describes simply the ‘cause’ we each support; but rather, it begins to describe the ‘effect’ of all that we do together.
April’s observance of Child Abuse Prevention Month reminds us all of our responsibility to make positive choices that will impact the safety and well-being of children. Beyond the choices we make every day to assure our own children receive nurturing, loving experiences every day, we can make choices that will affect change at the community level on the systems that support healthy community and family development.
Child abuse and neglect robs so many of our society’s children of their childhood and their sense of security and well-being. And while no one can do everything, everyone can do something. Consider becoming involved in our community by volunteering in a children’s program, mentoring a young person or parent, or donating money to an organization that supports families. We all can have a meaningful impact in the lives of children throughout the community.
During this Child Abuse Prevention Month, let us celebrate that many parts of our community are coming together to create positive, healthy environments that support children’s development.