This April, National Child Abuse Prevention Month, Promise Partners and the Prevent Child Abuse Pottawattamie County Committee reinforced the role that each person plays in ensuring that children, families and entire communities thrive by participating in the month-long nationwide awareness and impact campaign: “Everyone Can Make Great Childhoods Happen—Especially You, Especially Now!”
“April is a time to help people understand that safe, stable and nurturing relationships and environments are necessary to ensure that children grow up happy and healthy,” explained Patricia Russmann, Executive Director. “Women and children are at high risk during this time of isolation. We all play a role in supporting the well-being of others during this time.”
The time to act is now. COVID-19 has made life difficult for everyone—especially children and families. Although the risk to our children’s physical health from the outbreak itself appears to be low, the risk to children for experiencing child abuse and neglect in times of extreme stress and uncertainty is high.
School and workplace closings can increase stress in parents’ lives, resulting from loss of income due to lack of paid leave or an unexpected or irregular need for child care and food insecurity. Additionally, an unintended consequence of social distancing is isolation, which contradicts science proving that social and emotional connectedness and support are protective of mental health and positive discipline strategies.
April provides an opportunity to learn more about child abuse prevention and have a more watchful eye on the children around us:
- Lean on technology. This is a time to embrace technology— video chat with friends and family, encourage teachers to hold online meetings, host an online playdate, or connect to community resources virtually.
- Create a great neighborhood. Color sidewalks with positive messages in chalk, follow the “bear hunt” craze by dressing and hanging teddy bears in your window, have a kind heart and hang heart art in your windows through the “Heart Hunters” movement, plant blue pinwheels around your home.
- Get busy. Volunteer your time at your local church, nonprofit, or organization helping to alleviate the worries of families. Visit www.shareomaha.org for organizations actively seeking help.
- Be generous. Make a donation to support economic support for families. Consider donating to the Southwest Iowa COVID-19 Response Unmet Needs Fund or Emergency Childcare Collaborative at www.ourpccf.org.
- Make a call. If you should suspect abuse — please make a report. The Child Abuse Hotline is available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week at 1-800-362-2178 to make an anonymous report.
For more ways to get involved in Child Abuse Prevention Month, please visit www.preventchildabuse.org/yesyou.