National Child Abuse Prevention Month was officially created in 1983. It is observed every April, and it is a time when the nation comes together to recognize and bring awareness to the child abuse and neglect epidemic in the United States. The theme for this year is “ Working Together to Strengthen Families.” This month is a reminder of the importance of communities working together to strengthen and support families so that all children can thrive.
Child abuse and neglect are serious public health problems that have a long-term impact on health, opportunity, and well-being. At least 11% of children in the United States have experienced child abuse or neglect in their lifetime (Yi et al., 2020).
Children who are abused or neglected are more likely to have mental and physical health challenges as adults. For the fiscal year 2021, 2,045,000 reports of child abuse and maltreatment received an investigation or an alternative response from Child Protective Services (CPS). The majority (21.8) of these reports are from legal and law enforcement personnel. Approximately 1.8 million children received preventive services and about 1.1 million children received post-response services from Child Protective Services (CPS) (USDHHS, 2023).
Approximately 600,000 children were confirmed to have been victims of abuse and neglect in the past year. Of these victims, 76% were neglected, 16% were physically abused, 10.1% were sexually abused, and 0.2% were sex trafficked. Children less than 1 year old have the highest rate of victimization.
About 1,820 children died from abuse and neglect at a rate of 2.46 per 100,000 children.
There is a lot we can do to support families. We can help create positive experiences and supportive environments for caregivers and children, foster nurturing relationships, promote social and emotional learning in schools. We can look out for our neighbors and lend a hand when they need it. By working together, we can build healthier, safer, communities that thrive.
Please join us this April to honor all of the professionals, community members and families in your community who are working together to ensure children grow up to be happy and healthy adults.
The Symbol for Child Abuse Prevention Month: Pinwheels
In 2008, Prevent Child Abuse America (PCCA) declared the pinwheel as the national symbol for child abuse prevention through the campaign, Pinwheels for Prevention. Pinwheels symbolize the notions of playfulness, joy, and childhood, reminding us of the great childhoods we want for all children. The cyclical nature of the pinwheel depicts the positive cycles of love and support we want to help families create. Join us in planting a pinwheel, and show your commitment to creating a safe and nurturing environment for all children.