April is National Child Abuse Prevention Month. Throughout the year, CASA of Chautauqua County encourages the community to play a role in making Chautauqua County a place that prioritizes children's healthy development. Communities that support policies and programs that encourage children's healthy development in all areas of their lives - at home, in school, and in the community - ensure their future prosperity.
When the community has the knowledge, skills, and resources to provide children with stable, nurturing and stimulating environments, we can prevent abuse and neglect before they occur.
CASA (Court Appointed Special Advocates), a non-profit agency that provides advocacy for children involved in child abuse and neglect cases, is once again taking part in the National Pinwheels for Prevention campaign. On Thursday, April 4, CASA staff and volunteers, along with other agencies, will create a Pinwheel Display to represent every child the program has advocated for since the program's inception in 2003. The goal is to bring awareness, and focus on community activities that encourage prevention, to ensure that child abuse and neglect never happen.
The following information is from the Illinois Chapter of Prevent Child Abuse America.
Five (Actually Six) Things You Can Do to Prevent Child Abuse and Neglect in Your Community
1. Raise the issue
Educate yourself and others in your community to help prevent abuse from happening in the first place.
Call or write your elected officials and ask them to support increased funding for child abuse prevention, intervention and treatment programs.
Contact your local school district and faith community to encourage them to sponsor classes and support programs for new parents.
Wear a blue ribbon to show your support for child abuse prevention.
2. Reach out to kids and parents in your community
Anything you do to support kids and parents in your community helps reduce the stress that often leads to abuse and neglect.
Offer to baby-sit
Donate your used children's clothing, furniture and toys for use by another family
Assist new parents and children in whatever way you can
3. Remember the risk factors
Child abuse and neglect occurs in all segments of society, but the risk factors are greater in families where parents:
Abuse alcohol or drugs
Are isolated from their families or communities
Have difficulty controlling anger or stress
Appear uninterested in the care, nourishment or safety of their children
Seem to have serious economic, housing or personal problems
4. Recognize the warning signs
Warning signs that a child might be abused or neglected include:
Nervousness around adults
Aggression toward adults or other children
Inability to concentrate or stay awake for extended time periods
Sudden, dramatic changes in personality or behavior
Unnatural interest in sex
Frequent or unexplained bruises or injuries
5. Report suspected abuse or neglect
If you feel that a child is being abused, report it. One phone call could save a child's life. The authorities will not tell anyone who made the report.
6. And a bonus activity Volunteer
CASA of Chautauqua County Inc. works through professionally trained and supervised volunteers to promote the welfare of children in foster care. CASA is a nationwide organization that began in 1977, with approximately 950 programs across the country providing support and direction to more than 50,000 CASA volunteers. Those interested in becoming a CASA volunteer should contact Kathy Park, program director, at 753-4123 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.