In 2013, there were 679,000 victims of child abuse and neglect throughout the United States according to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ Administration for Children & Families. Yet there is a movement focused on preventing this plague, as people across the U.S. wear blue ribbons in support of these victims. While April is officially designated as Child Abuse Prevention month, in our line of work, child abuse prevention is an everyday focus.
Our Indian Child Welfare staff from ICW, family preservation, foster care and adoption, domestic violence and Tribal youth programs all work very closely with our Native and foster families to ensure that our Tribal children’s health and well-being are number one priority.
Being aware of the facts of child abuse can be very overwhelming, and disheartening, but that knowledge plays a significant role in our fight to prevent it.
According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, one in four girls and one in six boys will be sexually abused by their eighteenth birthday. The average age of an abused child is 9, while 22 percent are under 8 years old. One in 10 children report the abuse themselves.
Some of us very quickly forget that not all children have the same opportunity for healthy growth and development. As a community and “family,” it is our job to protect “our” children…they are our future.
Please help us promote Child Abuse Prevention month by talking with your children, family, friends and neighbors about how you can make a difference.
- Take time as a parent to play one-on-one with your child.
- Connect with grandparents and elders to preserve cultural heritage.
- Volunteer for a youth or family serving organization in your community.
- Mentor young parents in your community.
- Reach out to families that may be in need, refer them to local services in the community and donate time and effort.
- Be a friend to a parent or child you may know, provide support, and show them you care.
These all sound simple, but can be vital in forging connections between members of our shared community. Those connections allow child abuse victims and their families to feel comfortable to speak out when they’re in need.
If you would like to learn more about Child Abuse Prevention Month or FireLodge Youth and Family Services, please visit http://www.potawatomi.org/services/community/firelodge-children-and-family-services or call 405-878-4831.