Hello everyone! Hope you all had a fantastic March. April is National Child Abuse Prevention Month (NCAPM), which was created to bring attention to child abuse and to provide families and communities with the resources they need to prevent abuse and neglect. Every year families with lived experience, community members, the Federal Inter-Agency Work Group on Child Abuse and Neglect, and the National Child Abuse Prevention Partner
Organizations work together to create activities and compile information regarding the prevention of child abuse.
The Children’s Bureau also sponsors the National Conference on Child Abuse and Neglect (NCCAN). The theme
this year is “Doing Things Differently: Moving from the Challenge to the Change.” The conference will be held virtually in April and registration is still open.
There are several factors that affect a caregiver’s ability to protect and nurture their children. The social-ecological model illustrates this as overlapping levels: the family unit itself, community, organization (e.g. agency policies or programs), system (e.g. judicial and community support for families), and society (e.g. societal norms regarding parenting).
The levels overlap to demonstrate how each level interacts with the others. When assisting families in preventing child abuse, it’s important to identify which levels are at play and to provide support at each level.
For resources on how to support parents and families at each level, pre-order the 2023/2023 Prevention Resource Guide here: Child Welfare: Resource Guide
Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs)
To prevent child abuse, it is important to remember that it can take many forms. The ACEs test identifies adverse
childhood experiences that can have lasting impacts on people long into adulthood. ACEs are events that take place before a child turns 18 years old that are traumatic. ACEs include, but are not limited to:
All types of abuse and neglect
Parental substance use or mental illness
Research has shown that there is a meaningful correlation between the number of ACEs a child experiences and the negative experiences they face as an adult, such as substance abuse, mental health issues, and physical health problems. Unfortunately, the more ACEs a child experiences, the more likely they are to develop these problems as an adult. Although any child may have adverse experiences, children in the child welfare system have experienced at least one, if not more, ACEs.
There are ways in which the adults in children’s lives can assist them, no matter the number of ACEs they’ve experienced. Protective factors are tangible ways parents, child welfare professionals, and community members are able to not only support parents and children, but also help prevent child abuse from occurring in the first place. Protective factors are broken down into 6 different approaches:
Nurturing and attachment
Knowledge of parenting for child and youth development
For parents to support their children’s emotional, mental, and physical development, they must prioritize their own mental health. The Children’s Bureau partnered with the Office of Head Start, Office of Early Childhood Development, and other federal partners to create a video series, including the one below, describing the importance of supporting parents’ well-being in preventing child abuse.