Submitted by Mari Melvin, Davis County Child Abuse Prevention Coordinator
Prevent Child Abuse Iowa recognizes the importance of community-based support for all children and families during National Child Abuse Prevention (CAP) Month in April. The theme of this year’s awareness and impact campaign is “Growing a Better Tomorrow for All Children, Together.”
“We can build healthier, safer, and thriving communities if we take the same approach to raising families that we do to tending a community garden on a shared piece of land,” said Mari Melvin, Child Abuse Prevention Coordinator. “Too often, our society thinks of raising healthy children as a parent or caregiver’s responsibility alone. In reality, we all benefit when groups of people work together to collectively care for children, who grow up to become successful, contributing adults.”
Throughout CAP Month, Prevent Child Abuse Iowa, its parent organization, and other chapters, affiliates, and supporting organizations are using the community garden metaphor to reinforce the message that “Every day, we help positive childhood experiences take root.”
“Research shows that positive childhood experiences in nurturing environments provide fertile ground for physical and mental health, learning, and social skills,” explained Dr. Melissa Merrick, president and CEO of Prevent Child Abuse America. “By preventing child abuse and neglect we aim to holistically improve the lives of all families and the communities they live in.”
This is the second year that CAP Month has taken place during the COVID-19 pandemic. The coronavirus outbreak and its subsequent losses have changed the world permanently, and prevention professionals are still working to understand the pandemic’s repercussions for incidents of child abuse and neglect.
The risk to our nation’s children for experiencing child abuse and neglect in times of extreme stress and uncertainty is quite high. COVID-19 has added stressors to the lives of parents and caregivers, such as loss of employment, loss of income due to lack of paid leave, school and business closings that necessitate new childcare and homeschool arrangements, and food insecurity. The social connections and community services and activities that serve as protective factors against child abuse and neglect may not exist in this extraordinary time of physical distancing.
Prevent Child Abuse America, in close partnership with its nationwide chapter network, supports the expansion of evidence-based home visiting programs, such as Healthy Families America, to help families cope with stress and trauma. The organization also advocates for expanding family-friendly policies, like paid sick and family leave, to help reduce stress on parents and caregivers.
The Davis County Council for the Prevention of Child Abuse recommends the following ways that people everywhere can dig in and help raise awareness and impact virtually during this year’s CAP Month:
Follow the Davis County Council for the Prevention of Child Abuse on Facebook to stay up to date on our efforts in Davis County to prevent child abuse.
Participate in the giveaway opportunities that will be posted to the Facebook page.
• Wear blue on Thursday, April 1, Wear Blue Day, to show support for children and families. Post a photo on our Facebook post and include the #WearBlueDay2021 hashtag to be entered to win a J’s One Stop gift certificate!
• Stop by the Iowa State Extension and Outreach office to get a free felt pinwheel pin to wear on Wear Blue Day or purchase a yard sign to show your support. Signs are $10 and a photo of them has been posted on our Facebook page.
• “Take a Pinwheel, Leave a Donation” pinwheel bouquets will be in various businesses. All donations stay in Davis County and support the council in their efforts to hold community events.
Pinwheels are used as a symbol of hope and resilience during Child Abuse Prevention Month. Every blade represents a person’s life, and the pinwheel doesn’t work unless all blades work together.