April is National Child Abuse Prevention Month; a time set aside to recognize our collective responsibility to prevent and confront all forms of child abuse and neglect across the Commonwealth. Unfortunately, according to the Kentucky Department of Community Based Services, the number of substantiated findings of child abuse and neglect in Kentucky rose 55 percent over a four-year period.
The blue ribbon is the international symbol of child abuse prevention. Started by a Virginia grandmother in 1989 whose simple act of tying a blue ribbon on the antenna of her car after her grandson’s death has grown into a global effort to spread awareness of the impact that child abuse has on the entire community’s well-being.
Family Nurturing Center is partnering with the Face It Movement to end child abuse and Prevent Child Abuse Kentucky to coordinate a community-wide effort to not only promote awareness of the issue of child abuse in Kentucky, but to also educate the public on the role that every adult must take to keep children safe.
“Children’s well-being is an adult responsibility,” said Jane Herms, Executive Director for Family Nurturing Center. “Permanent cultural change in the way a community prevents and responds to child abuse occurs by educating adults and empowering individuals. Committing time and resources to do this is an investment in a better future.
“The U.S. spends more than $104 billion every year on law enforcement, health care, insurance, incarceration, mental health services, foster care and loss of productivity to society to address the needs of child abuse. That is why money invested in effected prevention and early intervention programs are so important and will result in future financial savings.”
For almost 40 years, Family Nurturing Center has been at the forefront providing child abuse education, prevention and treatment services to thousands of children and families in Northern Kentucky. Their mission is to end the cycle of child abuse by promoting individual well-being and healthy family relationships. Services are provided free of charge to children and families and include nurturing parenting programs, child abuse treatment counseling, groups for adult survivors of childhood sexual abuse, adult educational trainings through Stewards of Children, and elementary age puppet troupe Kids on the Block teaching child abuse and bullying prevention.
The Face It Movement, based out of Louisville was conceived and created in 2012 as a response to the public outcry against the increasing number of child abuse deaths in the Commonwealth. It was officially launched in April 2013 as an initiative led by Kosair Charities and has grown to be a statewide effort. Face It directly addresses the unacceptable incidences of child abuse and neglect in Kentucky with the promotion of best practices in child abuse prevention and intervention, engaging the community, and advocating for effective policies to improve the child welfare system.
“We at Face It understand that ending child abuse requires action by our leaders in Frankfort and thoughtful programming by nonprofits in each Kentucky community, like the Family Nurturing Center in Northern Kentucky. It also demands that every preacher, principal, policeman, and pediatrician, and every other citizen face it and end it. Ending child abuse is up to all of us,” said Jerry Ward, Chairman of the Board of Kosair Charities.
Prevent Child Abuse Kentucky is the Commonwealth’s only statewide child abuse prevention organization based out of Lexington. Established in 1987 when the Kentucky Chapter of Prevent Child Abuse America merged with Parent’s Anonymous of Kentucky. Prevent Child Abuse Kentucky is recognized as the Kentucky affiliate of Prevent Child Abuse America and comprehensively develops and promotes effective strategies and programs, through community involvement, public education and advocacy. Efforts are centered on recognizing the inherent potential and goodness of children, strengthening families and empowering the community to become involved with the mission.
“Kentucky’s kids need our attention and support year-round, but April is the perfect time to commit to prevention, if you haven’t already done so,” said Jill Seyfred, Executive Director of Prevent Child Abuse Kentucky. “We have more than 150 partners throughout the state, each of whom is working to improve the lives of Kentucky’s kids. The safety of our children begins at home, but parents and grandparents sometimes need a listening ear; and kids need a safety net. It’s never too early…or too late to be involved in prevention efforts.”
In Kentucky, any person who knows or has “reasonable cause” to believe that a child is a victim of child abuse or neglect has a duty to make a report to the Child Abuse Reporting Hotline at 877-KY-SAFE1 or online at the KY Report abuse/neglect web site.
What every adult can do to protect a child from abuse and neglect:
Learn the indicators of abuse and neglect.
Really listen to a child if they disclose a situation or person who is harming them.
Reach out to a family who is struggling and in need.
Talk to your child about abuse and go beyond “stranger danger.”
Report your suspicions of abuse and neglect.
Take a Stewards of Children training to learn how to prevent child sexual abuse.
Share this article with your social media circle of friends to let them know you care about protecting children.