Child Abuse Prevention Month
April is designated as Child Abuse and Neglect Prevention Month.
The Michigan Children’s Trust Fund is the only state-wide, non-profit organization in Michigan dedicated solely to the prevention of child abuse and neglect, reports Katie Smith, Recipient Rights Adviser for Northpointe Healthcare Systems in Kingsford.
The Children’s Trust Fund works in partnership with 69 local prevention councils and more than 60 community-based programs that serve all counties in Michigan, Smith said.
Since 1982, the Michigan Children’s Trust Fund has raised more than $60 million and provided support to more than 6 million children and families, Children’s Trust Fund records show.
The local prevention council is the Iron-Dickinson Children’s Advocacy Network (CAN) Council.
This organization, although it has changed names over the years, has been serving Iron and Dickinson counties for more than 24 years.
The Children’s Advocacy Network Council is a collaborative effort of agencies that come together to unify efforts in providing education and awareness programs, referrals, and advocacy for the children and families in Iron and Dickinson counties, Smith said.
Some of the education and awareness campaigns include: an annual Parenting Fair in Iron County; Day of the Young Child and Women’s Wellness Events in Dickinson County; parenting classes; Car Seat Safety checks; purchase and distribution of literature; and Asset Development celebrations.
The current symbol used to raise awareness of abuse is a blue pinwheel.
This was chosen because it represents a vision of families and children spending time together, having fun in a carefree way, without the fears or confusion that often accompany abuse and neglect.
Area residents can get involved by attending a meeting of a local prevention council.
Meetings are held on the first Thursday of each month (except July and August) via video conference between the Dickinson and Iron Health Departments at 9 a.m.
Area residents can financially support the local council with a donation, Smith said.
Residents can also advocate for the protection of children.
“You can wear a blue pinwheel to show your support (go to www.michigan.gov/ctf and click on eStore),” Smith said.
Residents can purchase a Children’s Trust Fund License Plate at the Secretary of State’s office or go to www.michigan.gov/sos.
Or you can donate to Children’s Trust Fund on the Michigan tax return.
“No one can do everything, but everyone can do something,” Smith said. “Show your support for Michigan’s children today.”
Experts say there is no specific test that can determine if a child is at risk for abuse or neglect.
However, when parents lose employment, worry about paying the rent or feeding their children, they often feel isolated and frustrated.
Without support, some parents reach the breaking point and lash out at their children.
It is essential for all of us to be mindful of the risks of child maltreatment within our immediate surroundings and community.
Area residents may know of families or friends who are experiencing high levels of stress. If you do, look for ways to help alleviate the tension, such as offering to watch their children for a few hours, or inviting them over for dinner or even visiting to give them support.
Experts also offer the following tips:
Help ease tension in a public place.
– If a parent is having difficulties with their child, strike up a conversation with the adult to divert attention away from the child.
– Try to get the child’s attention by talking to him/her.
– Avoid negative remarks or looks. These can increase the parent’s anger and make matters worse.
– Praise the child and parent at the first opportunity.
– If a child is left unattended, stand by the child until the parent returns or contact an employee.
– If you suspect abuse, call the local children’s services agency.
– If the situation is violent or the child is in danger, call 911.
How to cool down in a moment of anger
– Take a few deep breaths. Remember, you are the adult.
– Close your eyes and imagine what your child is about to hear.
– Press your lips together and count to 10.
– Put some space between you and your child.
– Turn on some music, and sing along.
– Drink a glass of cold water.
– Call a friend.
Remember, if you think a child is being abused, report it. Reporting abuse can help protect the child and get the family help.