April is National Child Abuse Prevention Month, a regular occurrence since 1983. President Barack Obama signed the 2014 proclamation on March 31.

The theme for this year's National Child Abuse Prevention Month is "Making Meaningful Connections." According to the official website, ChildWelfare.gov, “when we make meaningful connections with the children, youth, and families in our communities, we can help parents build the knowledge and skills and access the resources necessary to raise happy and healthy children. Everyone can play a role in preventing child abuse and neglect and promoting child and family well-being. This section provides information on getting involved to strengthen your community and the families in your community.”

The Children’s Advocacy Center of Collin County serves as the first stop for children who are suspected victims of abuse or neglect. Working with law enforcement and Child Protective Services, the Advocacy Center brings all services to abused children under one roof to minimize additional trauma to vulnerable children. They are hosting their annual Gala on Saturday, April 12 at 6 p.m. at the Hilton Anatole in Dallas. Click here to read more on the event.

Hope's Door logo

The February 2014 issue of McKinney Magazine featured a story entitled “Promises of Hope” which dealt with both domestic abuse and child abuse.

Domestic abuse: Two words not often discussed in the upscale neighborhoods of Collin County. Statistics show that one out of four women and one in seven men will experience domestic abuse during their lifetimes. According to court records, in 2013, over 3,000 incidents of abuse were reported. Many victims are reluctant to seek help and refuge, continuing to live in an abusive relationship because of fear and shame.

Help is available in Collin County through organizations like Hope’s Door, Shiloh Place and other advocacy groups and foundations. Click here to read the full story.

The nation’s official recognition of child abuse dates back to 1974, when President Richard Nixon signed the first Federal child protection legislation, CAPTA, on Jan. 31, 1974 and marked the beginning of a new national response to the problem of child abuse and neglect. CAPTA stands for Child Abuse Prevention and Treatment Act.

According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, in addition to the presidential proclamation announcing National Child Abuse Prevention Month, many State Governors also issue proclamations to encourage public awareness of child abuse and neglect, recommit State resources to the cause, and promote community involvement through State and local activities.

In December 2010, the Administration for Children and Families published a report that showed a steady decrease in child abuse and neglect.

There are many ways to get involved, both locally and nationally, according to ChildWelfare.gov:

Baby steps

  • Meet and greet your neighbors.
  • Go to a parents meeting at your child's school.
  • Participate in an activity at your local library or community center.
 

Small steps

  • Set up a playgroup in your community at homes or local park (consider inviting people who may not have children at home, like local seniors).
  • Organize a community babysitting co-op.
  • Volunteer at your child's school through the school's administration or the parent's organization.
  • Encourage local service providers to produce a directory of available services that are easy to find in the community.

Big steps

  • Organize a community event (a block party, father/daughter dance, parent support group).
  • Run for an office in the parent organization at your child's school.
  • Attend local government meetings (city council or school board meetings) and let them know how important resources are in your community. Let them know how parks, strong schools, and accessible services help to strengthen your family and other families.

Resources:

Shiloh Place logo

CASA of Collin County

CCA North Texas (Counseling and Consulting Associates of North Texas)

Children’s Advocacy Center of Collin County

Collin County City of Hope

Collin County Council on Family Violence

Collin County Homeless Coalition

Community Lifeline Center

Friends Place of McKinney

Hope's Door

Hope Resource Center of McKinney

Rape Crisis Center of Collin County

The Samaritan Inn

The Samaritan Inn logo

Shiloh Place

The Turning Point

Federal Interagency Partners

National Partners

State and Local Partners