|April is child abuse prevention month|
|Written by Holyoke Enterprise|
In 2011, the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment and its partners will reach more families with proven strategies to help reduce and prevent child abuse statewide. Twenty programs serving populations of 22 counties, both large and small, are offering parent education classes funded by the Colorado Children’s Fund.
“By providing a safe and nurturing environment for our children—free of violence, abuse and neglect—we can ensure that Colorado’s children will grow to their full potential as the next generation of leaders,” said Gov. John Hickenlooper.
Scott Bates, program director for the department’s Children’s Trust Fund and Family Resource Center programs, said, “Families that have support in times of need, social connections with one another and knowledge of child development stages are better equipped to help children develop healthy, trusting family bonds and, consequently, build the foundations of Colorado’s communities.”
April was first designated Child Abuse Prevention Month in 1983 by President Ronald Reagan.
Bates said, “We want to remind people that child maltreatment can be prevented when communities and local agencies work together to strengthen families.”
This year, the program expects to reach at least 1,000 families with classes that provide parents with proven skills to decrease the risk of child maltreatment, while also teaching parents about child developmental stages and developing empathy for their children. Programs are available in Alamosa, Delta, Denver, Fort Collins, Grand Junction, Greeley, Pueblo, Sterling, Walsenburg and other communities.
In the Denver metro area, the Denver Indian Family Resource Center has worked successfully with parents to reduce the risk of child maltreatment. Teri Haymond, the child welfare supervisor at the program, recently related the story of Virginia, a single mother of three small children who enrolled in the Nurturing Skills for Families class following an intervention with the Denver Department of Human Services.
“Although Virginia was reserved about attending the class, she and her children had perfect attendance over the 15-week session,” Haymond said. “Virginia’s evaluation scores showed she gained knowledge and reduced her risk of abuse and neglect by attending the class.”
The Colorado Children’s Trust Fund is working with the newly formed Colorado Chapter of Prevent Child Abuse America, American Humane Association, Colorado Drug Endangered Children, Every Child Matters, Families First, Colorado Court Appointed Special Advocates, Colorado Association of Family and Children’s Agencies, and the Colorado Departments of Human Services and Education to spread the word that child abuse is preventable.
Here are 10 ways to help prevent child abuse provided by the Colorado Chapter of Prevent Child Abuse America:
—Be a nurturing parent. Children need to know they are special, loved and capable of following their dreams.
—Help a friend, neighbor or relative. Being a parent isn’t easy. Offer to help take care of the children, so the parent(s) can rest or spend time together.
—Help oneself. When big and little problems of everyday life pile up to the point people feel overwhelmed and out of control, take time out. Don’t take it out on a child.
—Never shake a baby. It can be frustrating to hear a baby cry. Learn what to do if a baby won’t stop crying. Shaking a child may result in severe injury or death.
—Get involved. Ask community and school leaders to develop services to meet the needs of children and families.
—Help develop parenting resources at the local library.
—Promote programs in school. Teach children, parents and teachers prevention strategies that can help keep children safe.
—Share the Family Support Line number. People can call 1-800-CHILDREN for support.
—Volunteer at a local child abuse prevention program. For information about programs in the area, call 1-800-CHILDREN.
—Report suspected abuse or neglect. If one has reason to believe a child has been or may be harmed, call the local department of children and family services or the local police department.